is the town even country music forgot.
It has the grim name of Cold Rock, Washington, but it might as well be
called “Stimulus Village.” When the mine
closed, the jobs disappeared, but that was just the start of their
problems. A prolonged epidemic of child
abductions continues to plague the town.
Sketchy sightings of a shadowy figure have given rise to a new urban
legend, but one desperate woman will confront the truth behind the bogeyman in
Pascal Laugier’s The Tall Man (trailer here), which opens
today in New York.
Denning is registered nurse and the only remaining medical care-provider left
in Cold Rock. While her late husband was
a beloved pillar of the community, many of the locals never really warmed to
her. Yet, she stays out of a sense of
duty. Then one fateful night, she wakes
to find little David has been spirited away.
More resourceful than her neighbors, Denning gives chase, nearly reclaiming
David from his abductor. However, when Lieutenant
Dodd, the big city copper on loan to overwhelmed small town, deposits the
battered and distraught Denning at the local diner for safekeeping, she finds
her fellow townspeople are acting suspiciously squirrely.
is a huge game-changing twist in Tall
Man, but Laugier drops it comparatively early in the game. Instead of a M. Night Shyamalan ending
intended to make viewers feel stupid for buying into his films’ ostensive
premises, Laugier allows at least a good third of the picture to explore the
implications of his revelation. While
the big surprise eventually leads to credibility questions that would be
spoilery to explain, it is executed quite smoothly.
Denning, Jessica Biel plays a critical role selling the gotcha, rather
decisively subverting the woman-in-jeopardy archetype. Stephen McHattie (star of Pontypool, probably the best zombie film
since the original Night of the Living
Dead) brings genre cred and a cool, steely presence to Lt. Dodd. Unfortunately, the rest of the ensemble is
largely underwhelming as underwritten stock characters. Still, it is somewhat amusing to see William
B. Davis, the cigarette smoking man in The
X-Files, as the ineffectual Sheriff Chestnut. You wonder why they keep re-electing him,
given the circumstances.
to categorize, Tall Man largely
inhabits the zone where horror movies and dark thrillers overlap. Laugier is quite effective establishing the
dark, eerie vibe, but his third act-denouement suffers from a lack of tension. Still, The
Tall Man is far more distinctive than other disposable horror-ish films that
stumbled into theaters this year, such as ATM
and Beneath the Darkness. Soon to be an interesting VOD or rental
choice, The Tall Man just does not
quite have enough thrills or scares for current New York City movie ticket
prices. Maybe worth keeping in mind for
later, it opens today (8/31) at the AMC Village 7.
Labels: Horror Movies, Jessica Biel, Pascal Laugier