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The Tall Man (2012)

November 10, 2012

MY CALL:  Featuring a story that is less reliable than the “pullout method”, this movie is an unsatisfying waste of time drowns itself in too many plot loose plot elements.  Skip this head case of a movie.  It’s not clever, it’s simply indecisive.  [D+]  SIDEBAR:  This is one of very few movies bad enough to get hosed by both myself and The Hof, who will be featuring this movie for his next Bad Movie Tuesday.

Julia (Jessica Biel; Total Recall, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) is a small clinic nurse in Cold Rock, a small poor town plagued by a rash of soul-crushing child disappearances.  So troubling were these tandem disappearances that the mysterious “cause” was given a name: The Tall Man, which has wedged itself into the minds of the locals as a piece of folklore-turned truth complete with local sightings.

Julia is kind-hearted and strong, and is no stranger to loss either, having lost her husband.  She doesn’t believe in The Tall Man, she dedicates all of her spare time to her young boy, and she never wears make-up.

Any sense of mystery is swiftly defeated as, when Julia’s child is taken, we see The Tall Man, the beat up UPS truck that he drives and his pissed off dog.  He reminds me a good deal of Hollowface from Intruders (2011)—another generally ineffective boogeyman figure.  Julia sneaks into his truck and gives him one Hell of a fight—you gotta’ watch out for those chicks who don’t wear make-up.  But, alas, in order to make a movie of this The Tall Man needs to get away with her boy.  So he does.

This movie quickly takes a unique turn as we discover that The Tall Man may not be just one man acting alone and that other citizens may be involved…or someone is just nuts and they’re imagining things…or something else.

Biel gets put through the ringer in this one.  No make-up, attacked by a dog—twice, dragged on the road from the bumper of a car (which would shave off her kneecaps!), puts The Tall Man in a headlock, survives a car accident, gets mud in all of those wounds on her face, arm and leg, passes out from near hypothermia in the road in the middle of the night, beaten over the head with a pipe, tied up—twice, punched in the face, hit in the face with a rock…

Despite the Die Hard John MacClayne ringer she goes through, this movie had a stupid, generally insanely senseless plot.  I seriously thought that this movie was “just about to end” four times, so watching this movie is like reading a poorly written book and never knowing how many pages are left.  This isn’t necessarily because they drew it out to far, but rather because the plot and the message that the viewer was meant to take home from this simply took a long time to hash out the schizophrenic plot salad.  Instead of having a beginning, a middle and an end, this movie seemed to have a beginning, a middle, then a beginning to something totally different, followed by maybe two hardly related parallel middles and four to six endings—yuck.

This movie would have been better delivered as a crime thriller where they draw the curtains on the “secret” much earlier and the shocking “motive” appropriately at the end—so that there would only be one ending.  In the end I found this to be a generally ineffective un-thriller.  The only tension is our own frustration as we go from thinking this is a supernatural thriller, to a real crime thriller, to a cult-driven story, to a conspiracy, to a crazy swap-mama story, to maybe a psychological thriller, and ending up as a crime-mystery drama.  This process is never satisfying!

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