I consider The Tall Man to be the surprise movie of 2012 going beyond my limited expectations and a story that was at first confusing but quickly brought back into focus with plot points which make complete sense once the twists are revealed.
Genre(s): Suspense-Thriller, Mystery, Drama
Image | R – 106 min. – $29.97 | September 25, 2012
Directed by: Pascal Laugier
Writer(s): Pascal Laugier (written by)
Cast: Jessica Biel, Jodelle Ferland, William B. Davis, Samantha Ferris, Stephen McHattie
Theatrical Release Date: August 31, 2012 (limited)
Features: Visual Concepts, Deleted Scene, Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 18.6 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 4.0/5
This review contains SPOILERS. Do not read this section if you don’t want to know intricacies of the plot!
The Tall Man, written and directed by French filmmaker Pascal Laugier in his American feature-film debut, is one of the more refreshing movies I’ve come across in some time. It’s also a two-films-in-one kind of project with the first half going as planned before Laugier switches gears and turns everything on its head before going in a different direction. Thankfully it all works so well and very efficiently in the transition.
The story is set in the run-down town of Cold Rock, Washington where over the course of many years, children of the town have been disappearing without a trace and the legend of The Tall Man has taken hold of the townspeople. We then meet the town doctor, Julia Denning (JESSICA BIEL), who is the go-to woman no matter what and that includes delivering a baby, whose mother was impregnated by her own mother’s abusive boyfriend; she has another daughter, Jenny (JODELLE FERLAND), who has gone mute and communicates only through her notebook.
Lieutenant Dodd (STEPHEN MCHATTIE) is in Cold Rock determined to find the missing children no matter what as the local sheriff (WILLIAM B. DAVIS who must have thought he was in an episode of “The X-Files”) is way over his head and the people are getting restless with the little to no headway into who is behind the kidnappings.
After getting a lay of the land, we then follow Julia back home and find out a little more about her. For one thing, her deceased husband used to be the town’s doctor and now she has best friend Christine (EVE HARLOW) helping out with son, David. After some playtime with David, after he’s put to bed, Julia and Christine take to some drinking before Julia goes to the study and passes out.
When she awakens, she goes to the kitchen to discover Christine bloodied and bound and then frantically searches the house and finds out David is missing with “The Tall Man” taking him out the front door. Julia gives chase leading her to the back where she’s eventually captured only to escape, manage to get the van to overturn and the “Tall Man” making their escape with David into the vast woods.
This is where The Tall Man gets interesting and Writer/Director Laugier turns everything on its head. After Dodd finds Julia bloody and in shock in the middle of the road, he brings her in to the local café where she’s being taken care of by the waitress, but something is off. When Julia goes into the back to change into fresh clothes, she finds an altar with David’s picture whereupon she makes an escape with everybody, the sheriff included, coming after her, but for what reason we do not know until a bit later…
For the sake of those who have not seen the movie, I’ll skip over the twist and just say that this is really the tale of two movies in one: the first half has you thinking one thing and then by the second half, it goes on a completely different, yet coherent, direction that I did not see coming. In fact, the main character even somewhat shifts but it’s smooth rather than jolting or feeling like the writer mish and mashed ideas together (see: The Apparition).
Beyond the story, though, the movie also succeeds thanks to a, I hate to use this critic cliché; Jessica Biel gives a tour de force of a performance. If not for a limited theatrical release, and quite frankly mediocre reviews by some, Biel deserves recognition. Also a highlight is the young Jodelle Ferland whose relatively short career is fairly expansive and includes projects such as Silent Hill, Case 39, ParaNorman and, well, Home Alone: The Holiday Heist. Perhaps not the greatest start, but here she was excellent.
All in all, I consider The Tall Man to be the surprise movie of 2012 going beyond my limited expectations and a story that was at first confusing but quickly brought back into focus with plot points which make complete sense once the twists are revealed (and when they’re shown is even more surprising). The only drawback I found, and it comes in the second half, is the messaging, primarily done in a great rant by Biel’s character, is a bit much but even so, this movie is well worth at least a rental.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.0/5
This release comes with a matted but reflective slip cover.
Deleted Scene (3:58) – Interesting scene where Julia searches further but is more confusing than thrilling when the twist is revealed and also makes a later scene seem redundant.
Also included are Visual Concepts and the Trailer (1:56).
Preview – Lovely Molly
VIDEO – 3.5/5
Image Entertainment releases The Tall Man presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. Although the transfer isn’t terrible but thanks perhaps to a lower budget, or cheaper film stock, the movie doesn’t look the best. Dark levels are smooth and instead show off minor artifacting and the details are limited as well. Also disappointing is the skin textures which comes across a bit waxy.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track comes across a bit better. Whenever the soundtrack gets into the great score (available on iTunes btw) or action elements, the lossless track comes to life. Dialogue levels, however, at times do sound a bit muffled though still quite understandable.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, I consider The Tall Man to be the surprise movie of 2012 going beyond my limited expectations and a story that was at first confusing but quickly brought back into focus with plot points which make complete sense once the twists are revealed. The Blu-ray has OK audio/video transfers but fails in the features department with not even an EPK making-of featurette to give background on the project.