I did not hear about The Tall Man playing at SXSW until a couple days ago. That may be because it is a Midnighter, one of those films that play way too late a night for me. It came to my attention a couple days ago that the film got picked up by Image Entertainment for distribution. Curious what the film is about and if it is any good, I saw it last night.
The film is set in Cold Rock, Washington, a run-down town with not much in it anymore. Something strange has been happening in Cold Rock. Children are disappearing and are never found again. Some people have seen a tall man at the scenes of the disappearances. This person is now referred to as The Tall Man. He is feared, and parents keep their kids close. Julia Denning (Jessica Biel) is the town nurse, and she is well-respected. She was married to the town doctor, but he passed away before the story began. Julia has a son named David (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf and Jakob Davies) and has a live-in nanny named Christine (Eve Harlow). Eventually, the worst happens and The Tall Man takes David.
It will be hard for anyone to review The Tall Man since the twists and turns start close to the beginning of the film. It would be unfair to tell you just about anything about the plot other than what I described in the previous paragraph. I thought I had the actual character of The Tall Man figured out pretty early, but there are so many twists in the plot that I second-guessed myself or changed my mind about four times. While the large number of twists in a film can be a good thing, it can also make the film confusing and unfocused. It became ridiculous by the end of the film, and I am still confused about what the director and writer Pascal Laugier wanted the audience to take away from it. There is a social and political undertone to The Tall Man that is out of place in a thriller.
Jessica Biel has the lead role with Jodelle Ferland, Stephen McHattie, and William B.Davis as supporting cast. Overall, I think all of the actors do a good job with their characters. Jodelle Ferland plays a mute girl and she does a good job with body language and whatever she is able to utter. She is the narrator of the film so this makes it easy to guess that she will be able to speak by the end.
The Tall Man does have an original take on a menacing figure terrorizing a small town. However, the twists and turns that keep you guessing also make it an unfocused film. The film could have ended at a couple of points in the story, but it keeps going. More is revealed in these additional scenes, but the film drags. I question the ending and what kind of message Pascal Laugier is trying to send the audience. It is the kind of message that audience members may not appreciate. It is best to not alienate those who you are trying to entertain, but I do have to give some credit to him for being inventive with the thriller genre.
I give The Tall Man 2 “old doll heads” out of 5.