The Tall Man Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
DVD released by Image Entertainment
Written and directed by Pascal Laugier
2012, 114 minutes, Rated R
Theatrical release on September 5th, 2012
Blu-ray and DVD released on September 25th, 2012
Jessica Biel as Julia Denning
Jodelle Ferland as Jenny
Stephen McHattie as Lieutenant Dodd
Samantha Ferris as Tracy
Colleen Wheeler as Mrs. Johnson
Please take this review with a grain of salt; I fear I liked the film too much to be unbiased in my analysis.
In an age of predictable plot lines and worn-out character archetypes, The Tall Man surprised the hell out of me. Up until 50 minutes, 53 seconds I was absolutely sure I knew what was going on. I was wrong all the way to the last minute.
I've found that a few other reviewers would argue this isn't a horror movie when the truth is revealed, and to some extent I will agree with them. I would also point that when you're dealing with kidnapping small children, it's still horrifying even if there's no ghost or alien or undead monster. And I liked this movie so much I'm actually willing to overlook that part.
The story is set in the mining town Cold Rock in rural Washington, in steep decline since the aforementioned mine closed six years ago and incomes have dried up. Since its downfall, the town has lost eighteen children to what they suspect is a mysterious kidnapper they call The Tall Man. Julia Denning (Jessica Biel) is the town nurse, left a widow by her doctor husband, and is trying to hold the town together, until young David is abducted from her home.
That's all I'm going to tell you about the plot; I don't want to spoil the end before you see it. And you should see it.
The acting is phenomenal; the casting by Carmen Kotyk and Bonnie Timmerman is spot-on. Even the under-five-liners are perfect and the chemistry between every character is electrifying. Todd Bryanton's original score is brilliant from start to finish. Sebastien Prangere's editing is sharp; the scene transitions snap like a tightrope. I really can't say enough good things about the construction of The Tall Man. Revelations are made with a light hand; the reveals aren't jarring or unbelievable. I didn't find that this movie talked down to the viewer, despite its lofty ideals. The story is well written and the characters clearly defined and explored; the reasons why they do what they do is justified and I was never pulled from the story by a plot point that didn't make sense. Even when you finally understand what happened in the past, you have no idea what's going to happen next. Detective Dodd even uses proper grammar during the interrogation scene.
I am compelled to mention I think this movie will speak more to women than men; itself a remarkable feat considering this movie was written and directed by a man, Pascal Laugier. There's something decidedly feminine about its dealing with the question of 'what is motherhood?', but in no way is it sexist or demeaning. It's powerful and made a huge impact on me. Not since She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb have I encountered a male writer who so perfectly captures the female experience.
If you are seeking a thoughtful, engaging movie, watch The Tall Man. You'll be surprised.