The Tall Man
… Falls short.
For those lucky enough to have had the pleasure in experiencing Pascal Laugier’s ferociously violent and brutally brilliant 2008 horror Martyrs, an immediate response to the notion of the French director’s next project might naturally be euphoric excitement (mixed with an anticipatory sense of stomach-churning uneasiness.)
Four years later and that project has finally arrived. The Tall Man is Laugier’s first English-speaking entry, and surprisingly follows a similar Martyr-ian concept: abduction and revenge. Has it taken almost half a decade for the martyr-mastermind to churn out a similar movie? It hasn’t… Unfortunately.
A quiet, decaying mining town is given something to talk about when its children mysteriously start to go missing. With the child-snatcher deemed by local folklore to be an unknown entity- dubbed ‘The Tall Man’- a once-skeptical nurse Julia (Jessica Biel) enters into a desperate attempt to unravel the local legend once he kidnaps her son. But, as we should have known, not all is as it first seems in Pascal’s parent nightmare.
The plot plays with the Pascal-esque potential for twists, turns and mind meddling, and- at one point- our expectations are met. But this satisfaction is sourly short-lived and its tame climax leaves you hopelessly clinging on for a last-minute eye-opening revelation. Though plunging into formidably dark depths and intriguing morally corrupt territory, it is ultimately derailed by an underwhelming lack of terror and a creeping ridiculousness, resulting in a disappointing end to a promising premise.
Sacrificing her salary to ensure the film was released, it seems that Biel has been robbed of both her child and paycheck.
THE VERDICT: Tediousness replaces suspense as the twists turn inwards and the plot suffers an unexpected predictability. Ultimately it fails as a horror, but particularly as a Pascal Laugier horror.