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The Tall Man (2012)

the tall man

When her child goes missing, a mother looks to unravel the legend of the Tall Man, an entity who allegedly abducts children.

The Tall Man was written and directed by Pascal Laugier and is his first English-language film. Laugier gave the world the incredible French film ‘Martyrs‘ (click for my review) so understandably I was very excited to see how he would follow that up. I tried going into The Tall Man knowing as little as I possibly could, and for that reason I’ll keep this review short, sweet and spoiler free.

the tall man

To say this wasn’t the kind of film I expected to see would be an understatement. Anyone that has seen Martyrs knows how extreme the violence was, and I assumed that The Tall Man would be something similar. I was very wrong, there is no real violence on show at all here, but whilst being a very different film it is certainly no poorer for it. In fact, The Tall Man is arguably one of the finest films I’ve seen this year.

the tall man

To try and offer you a basic plot summary, this film is about a legend that has been started by the local inhabitants of a little town called Cold Rock. For years the children in the town have been going missing, and people have said it’s because of an entity known as ‘The Tall Man’ who has been taking them. Julia Denning (Jessica Biel ) is the local nurse whose husband died a few years ago. We then see her child get taken, and she gives chase to the truck holding her son. She tries to track down where the child is taken to, but she finds out that there’s more to this mystery than people are letting on. The towns folk start to turn on her and the truth comes out. Julia will stop at nothing to find out who is ‘The Tall Man’ and what the truth behind this mystery really is.

the tall man

Acting wise, Jessica Biel gives the best performance I have personally seen from her. As beautiful as always, but she really made me care for her plight, and I desperately wanted her to find out what was going on. She had a real depth to her character, and it’s nice to see her getting a great role and not depending solely on her looks. Backed up by a great supporting cast including Jodelle Ferland as Jenny and Stephen McHattie as Lieutenant Dodd, despite not being full of household names as such, the performances don’t let down the film at all.

the tall man

My only criticism would be a couple of little aspects towards the end, but I can’t really go into detail. The final ‘reveal’ was great, but it did require me to suspend my belief about the competence of the authorities. Speaking of which, maybe it was just me but if anyone else has seen it, did you notice a certain character who just seemed to disappear about half way through…….?? Strange, and that’s why I had to deduct a couple of points from my final score, as the story got a little complicated and far-fetched.

the tall man

In closing, if you are intrigued at all by this film, please keep off Wikipedia, IMDB etc until you have seen it. I’m so glad I kept away as the reviews/plots/summaries etc on those sites all give away vital plot points and twists, and going into the film with a clear mind knowing nothing certainly enhanced my viewing and I recommend you try the same. Sadly the film was dumped onto ‘Video On Demand’ and is only getting a limited theatrical run, such a shame as it really deserves to be seen by a wider audience. The Tall Man is a great psychological mystery film and one that will have you guessing right until the end.

7 stars

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28 Comments

  1. Nice one man. I had never heard of this but I’ll keep my eyes peeled. It sounds great.

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    • Cheers Mark. Yeah it’s just a nice refreshing change and style of film, slow at times but always tense and lots of twists and turns. All round solid film in my humble opinion

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  2. atothewr

     /  August 19, 2012

    I myself enjoyed his first movie though I remember little about it. I’ll have to read your review on it. I have heard about The Tall Man (makes me think of Phantasm) but was unsure what it was about. Thanks for the review and filling me in. Dropping it into my Netflix cue.

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    • Seen a lot of people comparing this to Phantasm, but not seen that myself. Thanks for the comment mate, and whilst this is a million miles away from Martyrs it is still a great film, albeit a very different style. If you do catch it I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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      • atothewr

         /  August 19, 2012

        In my que as we speak. The Phantasm thing is because of the villain’s name. The villain in Phantasm is called The Tall Man. That’s why it always pops into my head.

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  3. I’ve only seen one ad for this film and then forgot about it. I’m going to check it out.

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    • Yeah it’s a shame this film isn’t getting more attention. Maybe it is too different and not a remake/superhero film. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts if you do see it 🙂

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  4. theipc

     /  August 20, 2012

    Aside from Biel being incredibly hot, I’ve watched the trailer for this probably three times and can’t bring myself to go for it. Instead, I have opted for other things, such as what I watched today – a British film called KILL LIST. Do you have that out here? That was something else…

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    • Just doesn’t appeal to you? Fair enough, but it’s a great film buddy, if you do ever catch it I reckon you will at least like it, even if you don’t love it. Although you love Rec 3 so maybe you will hate this……… 🙂

      Yeah Kill List came out here a while ago, probably before you guys got it. Then I started hearing great things and how amazing it was. I really didn’t like it to be honest, thought it was dull and had a crappy cop-out ending. But hey, thats just my thoughts. Did you like it?

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      • theipc

         /  August 20, 2012

        I’ll probably watch it one day when it’s free… KILL LIST…? I can’t decide. The ending sucked and I couldn’t understand what anyone said but there was something about it that I did like… I have to stew on this one for a few days…

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        • I think I need to see it again. I kept waiting for the big reveal but the ending just ruined it for me. Maybe I was too hasty in my anger towards it!

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        • theipc

           /  August 20, 2012

          I know – and I agree – it’s been hard for me to even start writing about it…

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  5. Interesting post, I’m going to keep a lookout for this one as I’m curious to see what I think of it.

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    • Hope you like it if you do catch it Vinnieh, it’s different and definitely more of a slow burn, but enough twists and turns to keep it fresh and interesting.

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  6. I saw this already too. I think it’s a movie that is intended to make people ask themselves some hard questions, but from what I’ve read online, some who are taking a very black-and-white view of the ending are blowing up with what they feel is righteous indignation. I hope it doesn’t flop. Something about the way it asks more questions than it answers reminds me of the 2005 thriller Cache.

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    • People giving it bad reviews I’ve seen tend to be because they are expecting a film as bloody as Martyrs. Without ruining the ending on here, I can see why people may not like it, but it worked i felt and offered an interesting thought on the way society is. I’m lucky enough to currently be in Paris, and this film is advertised everywhere! Although it’s called The Secret 🙂

      Not seen Cache, will have to look that up.

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      • The angry comments I’ve seen are because some people think the film is definitely stating the position of “we should always do this thing in this situation,” a position that would be rather radical if not completely insane.

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        • Taking a story idea and thinking they actually want to implement it? People need to get a grip and realise it’s just a film, and then try and enjoy it for what it is. Very far fetched but i liked the angle they went for. Certainly not what I was expecting which was great, always nice to be surprised!

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  7. Whoa. I am very surprised to hear this is a Pascal Laughier film. I own Martyrs on DVD, and Laughier impressed me with that movie. BUT as you say, it is a very different film from Martyrs. So if I did watch this movie, I’d probably be one of those people expecting excessive gore and torture, and wind up disappointed, whether the movie was actually well-made or not.

    Laughier also sounded like a capable director for the Hellraiser remake, but then I heard he wasn’t going to get to direct that film. Hellraiser is one of the few films I would like to see remade – but I can’t think of many directors that could do that film justice.

    And it is AWESOME that you used a photo of Stephen McHattie! He’s a familiar face in Canadian TV and movies, and even if all he has is a brief part in a movie, I always enjoy his presence.

    Good review!

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    • Rather than be disappointed you may actually enjoy it even though it’s different!

      Yeah I saw he left the Hellraiser project, shame, I loved them and as you say he would of been a great choice for it.

      I also reviewed ‘Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal’ which starred Stephen McHattie. Weird, without knowing it I watched him in back to back films! He has a very Lance Henriksen look about him 🙂

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      • You’ll probably turn out to be right – sometimes I need a bit of an advance warning about a movie, so that I won’t walk into it expecting something I won’t get. A movie starring Eva Green called Cracks comes to mind – after I read a friend’s movie review, I knew it wasn’t going to be a “sexy” role for her. So once I had that piece of information, I watched the film, and really enjoyed it! However, if I was expecting it to be a “sexy” role for her – that expectation would’ve prevented me from appreciating the film.

        That said, I am glad to hear that Laughier is trying to diversify his horror resume! I had seen TV ads for this movie, and I thought “Ugh. Another Hollywood horror film, just as bland and unimaginative as every other Hollywood horror film that comes out these days”. But after seeing Martyrs, Laughier strikes me as a filmmaker that wouldn’t work on a crappy film. Well, not at this stage of his career.

        Haha! He does have a Lance Henriksen look to him!

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    • Definitely different from a lot of stuff Hollywood is producing in my opinion. Nice little twists to keep us entertained and guessing, but definitely no gore on show, all psychological but worth a watch at the very least it you ever get the chance. I would like to see him go back to his ‘extreme horror’ roots though.

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  8. Ooohhh, I hadn’t heard of this. I can’t remember the last thing I saw Jessica Biel in anything. Will be nice to see her again!

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    • I saw her in the A-Team (which I really enjoyed……….) but aside from that it might be the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake she did a few years ago the last time I caught her in something. She is actually really good in The Tall Man!

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  9. Great review. Looks highly interesting. And is this Biel’s return to glory?

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  1. Question Time VII (Part 2) – Best Movie 2012 | Head In A Vice

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