A lot was expected out of The Tall Man. And rightfully so. The film comes courtesy of writer/director Pascal Laugier who was the genius behind the still disturbing Martyrs (2008). The Tall Man marks Laugier’s first English speaking film and if The Tall Man would be able to maintain half the intensity of Martyrs, we would be talking about Pascal alongside other horror greats such as Eli Roth, Rob Zombie and James Wan.
The Tall Man brings audiences to the town of Cold Rock where we meet Julia Denning (Jessica Beil). Julia works as a nurse in the town that had a reputation for their children disappearing thanks to an entity known as The Tall Man (“Something had come to Cold Rock that was taking the Children. Something so menacing, so terrifying that the people finally gave it a name – [The Tall Man]”). Julia herself has a young child (her husband died years earlier). And when her son disappears and is feared taken by The Tall Man, Julia attempts to track down the truth behind the town’s secrets and to uncover the fate of the missing children.
The idea and the initial concept behind The Tall man is an eerie one. A mixture of campfire horror stories set in a Twin Peaks type town with a Jeepers Creepers type problem. The idea of your child disappearing in a town that seems to be concealing a secret that may hold the answers to their whereabouts is a nightmare that would awaken any parent in a cold heart-thumping sweat.
But surprisingly, the concept is not exploited to the fullest by Pascal Laugier’s script. Instead of eerie, we get dreary. Instead of horror, we get a disconnecting attempt to plot a story around horrific events. The ingenuity and violence of Laugier’s Martyrs has been replaced by a meandering uninvolving story whose only real scare comes from an angry dog.
Pacing issues seem to be The Tall Man’s biggest problem. From a 25-minute set up to a dramatic chase scene and then into a cavity of Jessica crawling through mud and townspeople all looking at each other weird in a Stephen King kind of way, The Tall Man goes from interesting to tedious and annoying quicker than you can say “The Happening”.
In defense of the film, Jessica Beil has never been better. But considering that her high mark prior to The Tall Man was I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, the bar wasn’t set that high to hurdle. And there are many twists and turns in the film (many of the ridiculous nature, but still…) to at least keep you interested even if you are not involved.
I cannot think of how my opinion would have been swayed had the expectation of Pascal Laugier’s involvement not been announced. Were expectations set too high coming off the marvelous Martyrs? Or would we have disliked the film even further and not reached the end credits if not for giving Laugier the benefit of our doubts.
Who knows. What we can assert is that we believe The Tall Man to be a u-turn from his previous efforts. The Tall Man will not go down as one of the better horror movies of 2012 and we hope that this is just a small speed bump on the filmography roadway for he director.
In the meantime, consider the film only a rainy Saturday diversion. And even at that, you may wish to be doing laundry instead.
Follow me on Twitter @Gregmoroberts
I don't even consider it horror, I was greatly disappointed
This review sums up my opinion about it.
I prey he will make a switch back to horror.
Martyrs truely was a work of horror art.
Maybe a one hit wonder.
disappointing Martyrs effected me , not many movies do that.
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