The Tall Man is a film that Netflix, Shudder, Amazon have all suggested to me. But never seemed to spark any interest. I’m not the biggest Jessica Biel fan, it’s not that I don’t enjoy her as an actress, she’s just not among my favorites and I never go out of my way to watch her work and The Tall Man didn’t really do much to change that stance. Even though she does do an amazing job in this film, and I really did like it. But one solid film doesn’t always make me an outright fan, even though this is a film that I would recommend to others.
The Tall Man takes place in the small town of Cold Rock in Washington, that has been hit hard by a depression that has left many in the town jobless and destitute. Julia (Jessica Biel) runs a small free clinic established by her late husband and she serves the community to the best of her needs. The town of Castle Rock is also beset by a dark presence that is stealing the town’s children from them, in shocking regular intervals. The epidemic of missing children is so pervasive the town has given the unknown predator a name The Tall Man and has built him up as a supernatural bogeyman. One of the families Julia see’s is Tracy’s (Samantha Ferris), who lives with her two daughters, Jenny (Jodelle Ferland) a girl who doesn’t speak by choice, but is quite talented when it comes to art and her sister Carol (Katherine Ramdeen), who is pregnant by her mothers alcoholic boyfriend Steven (Teach Grant). Julia lives in a home on the outskirts of town with her nanny Christine (Eve Harlow) and son David (Jakob Davies). That night after dinner and putting David to bed, Christine and Julia drink and Julia falls asleep in the study while reading. When she awakens later in the night she goes downstairs and finds Christine bound and gagged. She rushes upstairs to find David missing from his bed and a shadowy figure running out the door. Julia gives chase and manages to grab jump on the back of abductors truck. After being road-hauled for a short distance the driver stop’s to see whats going on, allowing Julia the chance to rescue David. A plan that goes sideways when she’s attacked by the abductors dog, then being rendered unconscious by the abductor. She comes to in the back of the vehicle and manages to escape her bonds and attacks the driver while the vehicle is in motion, resulting in the truck crashing. The abductor escapes the wreck with David and escapes into the woods and pursued by Julia, who gets lost while following them. After wandering the woods in vain to find them, she collapses on the road and is found by Lieutenant Dodd (Stephen McHattie). Dodd takes Julia to a local diner while he waits for reinforcements. The waitress gives Julia fresh cloths and a towel to clean up in her office, inside the office Julia finds numerous clippings of the missing children along with a framed picture of David. Julia escapes out the back and is quickly chased by the town folk, who know more about the missing children that Julia earlier believed…
I cut the synopsis short due to the fact that going any further would seriously impact the film due to spoilers. Something I don’t want to do as the twist is one that I did not see coming, and is shocking as it is thought provoking. It leaves you questioning the morality of those involved as well as the ethic involved.
The open ending is what pushes this film from a thriller to a horror film as it leaves you with a hollow feeling that lingers after watching. Something that wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the strong performances from both Jessica Biel and Jodelle Ferland. Who both respectively knocked their performance out of the park and left the film better for their starring in it. But if forced to choose between the two I feel that Jodelle Ferland did the better job.
I really enjoyed the films setting, having grown up poor in a rural community the film hit a lot tender cords for me. This could be in large part why I enjoyed the film so much. I could relate to the struggles and fears of the town as a whole, with each character no matter how trivial being relate-able, almost as if I knew them personally.
I also enjoyed the depiction of Jenny’s family. It rang true to me in a way that many films that try to handle being rural poor do not. I could see the care and respect from the film-makers and actors when it came to handling this subject matter and while I don’t agree with decisions that Tracy makes. But I understand why she makes the ones she does.
Final thoughts, The Tall Man is a film that I feel is worth watching. I don’t know if I was the only one, but going in I thought this would be a telling of Slender Man myth. Something that after the attack on May 31st, of 2014 I was not interested in viewing. So to clarify The Tall Man is in no way related to the Slender Man ethos and honestly, I don’t know where that correlation came from. So if you were avoiding this film for that reason, I would urge you to watch it. The Tall Man is a well paced, well written and well acted film, that has a deeper message that I feel should be at least thought about and question, if not openly discussed. 9/10