Pascal Laugier’s “The Tall Man” is one dry heave of a drama that paints itself as a horror movie. Worse more it pretends to be a take on “The Slender Man” when really it’s just one heaping helping of melodrama about kidnapped kids and altruistic nurses taking their love for them one step too far. It’s a shame, too, since the opening montage isn’t only creepy, but seems to be setting us up for one hell of an eerie and haunting horror film built on a scary premise. I wanted to invest time in the film once the initial hook runs its course. It’s just sad that the film itself never lives up to any of its promise.
When “The Tall Man” isn’t leading us down a road of “plot twists” that feel more like we’re being jerked around, it conveys this utterly despicable commentary about the lower class and their inability to raise children. “The Tall Man” is set in a small mining town named Cold Rock where the local community’s children have slowly begun disappearing. Based around spotting them being lured in to the woods by a shadowy figure they eventually begin to identify as “The Tall Man,” the efforts to keep their children close and away from the enigmatic villain becomes ever more terrifying for the town folks. After returning to town with her son David, nurse Julia awakens to find out he’s been kidnapped.
Chasing down the shadowy figure in the woods, she begins a cat and mouse game of survival with the kidnapper, all of which leads us down a path of shocking revelations. “The Tall Man” doesn’t take us where we expect, completely flipping the coin on the narrative mid-way to give us completely new perceptions of which characters are our victims and which our predators. “The Tall Man” doesn’t really rise in quality once the big revelation rears its head prompting a different quest for young David’s innocence. Laugier tries to draw out the premise while also setting up a ton of red herrings that will mean nothing in the second half of the movie.
This makes “The Tall Man” feel less like we’re investing in a mystery, and more like we’re being deceived mainly because the writer had little narrative to run on to fill ninety minutes total. The consistent twists and revelations eventually become tiresome, and you just want them to get to the point and explain how such a massive scheme could ensue without anyone slipping up. Biel’s performance is adequate for what is a glorified Lifetime movie of the week, and can never rise above the gimmicky trappings of the film and its premise, sadly. “The Tall Man” had true potential, but it’s just a colossal waste of time built around tricking us with illogical plot twists, and a convoluted hard to follow narrative.