By Don Simpson | August 30, 2012
Director: Pascal Laugier
Writer: Pascal Laugier
Starring: Jessica Biel, Jodelle Ferland, Stephen McHattie, William B. Davis, Samantha Ferris, Colleen Wheeler, Eve Harlow, Janet Wright, Ferne Downey, John Mann, Teach Grant, Garwin Sanford, Jakob Davies, Lucas Myers, Katherine Ramdeen, Prya Lily Campbell
When the mining industry moved out of Cold Rock, the quaint Washington State town was left hanging out to die. The northwestern community was instantly crippled by skyrocketing unemployment and widespread poverty. To further exacerbate their an already harrowing situation, a series of mysterious child-abduction cases began to riddle the town, thus beginning the mysterious Grimm-esque legend of The Tall Man.
As the sole nurse of the local medical clinic, Julia Denning (Jessica Biel) seems to be one of the few fully employed residents of Cold Rock. Julia’s husband was the town’s beloved doctor; but he died several years ago, leaving a house that is palatial compared to the rapidly decaying trailer parks of Cold Rock. Julia lives in the house with her son David (Jakob Davies) and his nanny Christine (Eve Harlow). We can only assume that Julia’s husband was an independently rich man and left plenty of money behind for Julia; as the economic devastation has not affected her other than probably having to do a lot more pro bono work at the clinic.
On one fateful night, David is kidnapped by a shrouded character and Julia fearlessly chases after the mysterious captor. This is when writer-director Pascal Laugier begins to pummel the audience with a series of strange and unexpected plot twists; each one seems incredibly illogical at first, but most of them begin to make more sense as the narrative progresses. This is also when The Tall Man takes a dramatic turn from being a frightless pseudo-horror flick into a relatively unique socio-economic thriller.
On paper, I bet The Tall Man sounds pretty amazing, but Laugier’s film leaves me questioning its cinematic integrity and execution more often than not. For every time I thought “Wow, that was brilliantly unexpected!” there were five times that I thought “That was incredibly stupid!” or “This is so freaking boring!” But, boy, once you wrap your head around the message that Laugier is conveying to his audience… Holy crap! The Tall Man has such an intriguing premise, and some masterfully orchestrated plot twists; I just wish Laugier spent more time fleshing out the rest of the film.