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The Tall Man – 5


Director – Pascual Laugier

Cast – Jessica Biel, Jodelle Ferland, Stephen McHattie, Jakob Davies, William B. Davis, Samantha Ferris, Katherine Ramdeen

Release Year – 2012

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Like many other horror fans I first learned of French auteur Pascal Laugier when his amazing 2008 film Martyrs hit the genre, and despite my love for the guy I was a bit confused when I learned he was working on The Tall Man? “Is this based on the Marbel Hornets Youtube series?” (Slender Man / Tall Man, same thing to me) was my initial thought, and I must say I was happy to see that this would in fact be an original effort and not an adaptation of the sometimes-creepy Youtube series mentioned above. While I never read a review for the film I did hear that it was receiving negative buzz around the horror community, but I decided to go in blind (no trailer, no review, no plot info) and with “hopeful” expectations that this would not disappoint. Well, I must say that Laugier’s direction is positive and he provides the atmosphere that I wanted to see, but without brutality and gore his writing suffered and made for a mediocre experience after all.

Jessica Biel stars as Julia Jenning, a small-town nurse still recovering from the death of her husband, a beloved doctor. The isolated and economically-stricken town of Cold Rock is dying amidst the gloomy Washington State forests heavy in mist and low-lying clouds. Despite the physical gloom looming over Cold Rock, an emotional gloom reigns heavier as dozens of children have disappeared from their homes, with the only leads being the strange tall man in black the parents saw running into the woods with their child. With little physical proof this seems like nonsense to Julia, until one night she is visited by a tall figure dressed in black who runs off with her son.

I went into this picture with the intent of enjoying its creepy storyline and antagonist, so you can imagine my disappointment when neither really developed into anything worthwhile. The film begins with statistics involving missing children, with Laugier once again giving us a story with some social commentary and “meaning” behind it. Laugier manages to write in a very gloomy experience for us to marvel at, with a heavy level of dread residing over the town suffering from the losses of many children. We follow Julia as she struggles to help the town’s numerous poor and battered residents, but soon enough it is her who needs help when the Tall Man breaks in and steals her young son David. Her quest to find David forces her to uncover the horrors behind the Tall Man – who he is, why he does what he does, etc., however as the story moves on it becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems. I really do not want to give too much away, but let’s just say that once you think you “get” the film…you realize that the film “got” you. I did enjoy this storyline trickery and found it rather creative, although those of you who have seen Martyrs will be familiar with Laugier’s usage of this tactic. Sadly, I felt that this trick ruined the most important aspect of the film…the horror. Again, I will not give you too much information on this, but let’s just say that as the film went on it became less and less of a horror film and more of a thriller/drama. Despite being somewhat interesting, this end result of thriller/drama was disappointing.

While his story was lacking in nearly every element, Laugier’s direction was pretty good. His atmosphere was incredible and his usage of locations and camera angles made for the perfect blend of gloom and spook – especially early on in the film. The acting performances are positive, but his usage of the Tall Man (who was pretty tall) could have been much better aside from a few slightly creepy moments. Of course, seeing more of the Tall Man period would have been better as well Mr. Laugier. :shakes fist: During what little scenes of horror the film did have I found his direction to be pretty good and very engaging, showing that despite his writing ineptitude he still has what it takes to deliver good horror…so long as it’s written into the film.

Overall, The Tall Man was a disappointment for me as I am sure it will be for the many other Martyrs fans who go into this expecting another incredible experience to last a lifetime. The majority of the film’s faults are story-related, slowly drifting the film not just from horror to thriller but from pretty good to pretty lame. Laugier’s direction is good and really the only reason I viewed the film in its entirety without becoming distracted watching the dust settle on objects around me, and I hope he brings his writing A-game (or another writer) in his next picture.

Rating: 5/10

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  1. mike p.
    August 6, 2012 at 1:27 am

    can you post the link to the youtube series slenderman/tallman, idk i found a documentary but idk if its the one you’re talking about

  2. August 6, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for the review, John. I think my son wants to watch this, as it seems like a movie based on the “Slender Man” legends he and friends talk about.

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