Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs was certainly a film that shocked. It’s a harrowing prolonged torturous plot twister which tests the audience’s loyalties by shifting our affiliation towards key characters, flipping conventional rug pulling on it’s ear. His new film The Tall Man attempts a similar maneuver but sadly ends up losing steam in the last half by leaving us no real side to be on. Though competently directed and darkly shot the thriller seems a little light after his previous hardcore effort, trading in his sledgehammer for a screwdriver and heading to Hollywood to tinker with the mainstream.
We are in a dying mining town in America’s midwest. A town in which child kidnappings are common place, made more terrifying by the legend of The Tall Man supposedly responsible for snatching the kids. Town nurse Julia (Jessica Biel) remains skeptical about the urban legend but when her own child is snatched we follow her on a hunt through the close knit community’s dark alley to find out how true the rumors actually are. Thankfully that’s as far as we would like to go plot wise.
The truth is that The Tall Man’s secrets stand larger than the film itself and as Laugier attempts to perform the same trick twice at the film’s halfway point, this time, we can see exactly how he is doing it. Biel is actually pretty good as Julia, peeling off the rosy red make up and good looks, she is intense and surprisingly real as she claws tooth and nail through the odd townsfolk on the hunt for her little boy. It’s light on traditional scares and strangely this works to it’s advantage but as it gallantly tries one final moral twist beyond it’s call it almost falls flat on it’s face.
A shame then that after Martyrs, The Tall Man generally suffers due to it’s own conventions and although Laugier is a talented horror film maker his film seems a distant backwater relative of his previous efforts. Though by no means bad, it’s sadly a film that you can be told little about before you’ve seen it and miraculously say even less about afterwards.
neil @ projectorreview.tumblr.com/