LIVE FILM REVIEW – “The Tall Man”

TALLMANBEWARE! SPOILERS!

This is just a little experiment, I’m going to see how it goes… But I’ve put the DVD of “The Tall Man“, a 2012 horror/thriller vehicle for Jessica Biel, into my DVD player, and am planning to write a review of the film whilst I’m watching it. It could be an epic fail, or it could prove to be fun.

I’ve heard little to nothing about this film, the only prejudged notions I have about this film are based on what I’ve seen in the trailer, and also the fact Jodelle (Silent Hill) Ferland stars in it. So I am reviewing this blind.

The film opens with some title cards inter-spliced with scenes of police officers staring into a cave. The title cards contain actual facts; “800 000 children are reported missing each year in the USA. Most are found within a few days. 1000 children disappear without leaving a trace…” Is this implying that as a viewer of this film I am to believe what I’m about to witness is based on true events? Why are we using actual figures here? Hmm… The policemen in the scene make it obvious that a child is definitely missing… and there is no trace…

At the beginning of the film I noticed a startlingly large amount of production companies were involved in the making of this motion picture. I hadn’t heard of any of them, which leads me to believe this film is semi-independently made. But I’m 1 minute 27 seconds into the film and so far production values are high! I’m liking the look of the film (as in the actual appearance of the film).

The tall manAbove: Why have all the children gone missing? 

And it’s official… I love this film. The ball has started rolling now, and we are introduced to the small town of Cold Rock. The unidentified voiceover tells us the town “died six years ago” and that basically we are observing a ghost town. The various shots of abandoned houses, buildings and warehouses send goosebumps down my arms, and I know that something chilling is lurking in this town. Whether it will manifest itself in the shape of a mystery or a tall man, who knows yet.

So far the film is running smoothly and keeping my attention. It is still unclear at this point whether I’m watching a thriller or an out and out horror. Is “the tall man” real? Or merely supernatural? The visuals are stunning, however, and every shot of this rundown town, a town gripped in fear after the disappearance of local children, is splendid.

31RDP_TALL_SPAN-articleLargeAbove: Jessica Biel tries to cling to the last remaining shreds of a good script…

However, the inevitable happens. Knowing this is an independent film it was almost bound to happen. The script, and the story, take a turn for the worse. Like a bout of the flu you think you’ve gotten over then suddenly you find yourself blowing your nose, this film has tried to change handkerchiefs mid-sneeze and failed miserably. The back of the DVD boasts “plot twists” and “shocks around each corner”, however the major plot twist at the end only serves to show that sometimes independent doesn’t always win over the big Hollywood blockbuster horror films. It’s an archetypal example of the indie film trying to look glossy and Hollywood, but where the story can’t match the visuals.

The ending, which can only be described as being annoying and unfulfilling, is clearly trying to be a commentary on the world we live in, reflecting on child abduction, child labour and the fact perhaps we as a nation do not seem to care about the 9 million children who go missing worldwide each year, unless it affects us personally. But it doesn’t work. It just falls flat on the ears of the audience who have been enjoying a relatively good horror film. It would have been better to just show us a big boogeyman monster at the end and have done with it. It reminds me a little of “Cabin in the Woods“, where you think throughout the entire film that there are zombies, and ghosts and monsters afoot – but in the end the “plot twist” leaves us empty and wondering huh?

Visuals – 9/10

Story – 6/10

The promised plot twists – 2/10

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