The Tall Man – Horror Film or Tricky Misdirection?

“The Tall Man” is a 2012 thriller starring Jessica Biel. I caught it on Netflix, and the description sounded at least potentially promising. A down on it’s luck mining town is being menaced by a creepy bogeyman called “The Tall Man” who has been stealing young children, presumably murdering them.

However, and I will just start with the spoilers right away, this is not in any way a horror film. However, that is how it’s presented, and the direction the film seems to be going in for about the first half of the film.

In actuality, this movie is one of those mystery thrillers that directors like M. Night Shyamalan usually make. If you really like his movies, you’ll probably like “The Tall Man.”

If, however, you were hoping for a horror film dealing with something supernatural, perhaps using a legend like “The Slender Man” as a focal point, then you are shit out of luck.

I won’t get into a synopsis of the film other than to say that we are led to believe that these kids have been snatched by the local bogeyman, and that’s not the case. Jessica Biel plays a local doctor that seems like the film’s protagonist up until the plot twists start to twist away, and then she comes off like the movie’s villain, and then is vindicated again.

This movie reminds me a lot of “The Village,” and not in a good way.

Here’s my take: It isn’t automatically clever to just trick audiences with weird and unrealistic plot twists, unless that twist makes the film better.

In the case of “The Tall Man” the twists are just a form of cheap misdirection. “Oh, you thought this was that type of movie? Well it’s not! Isn’t that clever of us?”

No, it’s frustrating and lame.

What is presented as a horror film ends up being about an almost inconceivably unlikely organization of people that steal kids from abusive families, and then sort of brainwash them, and place them in loving homes. Does that sound like a fun horror film or thriller to you? Me, either.

Generally, when I feel like a movie has tricked me, that’s not a good thing.

“The Tall Man” is very well-filmed, for the most part looking great, and the acting is top notch too, so the effect is that the audience might think it’s watching a good film. It looks good doesn’t it? The acting is great, right?

Yes, but the silly multiple layers of plot twists are ridiculous, and those high production values might have been better used in a straight horror tale.

This film is also guilty of using that blue filter which seems so common these days, and I’m just tired of seeing that. It’s hard on the eyes, and overdone at this point.

If you’re a huge fan of the types of thrillers where the central idea is shown to be nothing like it’s presented, then “The Tall Man” might be worth checking out.

If you’re a horror fan that just wanted a well made horror film, then look elsewhere. This is really an adoption drama disguised as a horror thriller, and that’s a pretty cheap and unsatisfying fake-out in my book.

The first half of the film is pretty suspenseful and seems loaded with promise, but that good stuff all falls away about halfway through.

I would give “The Tall Man” 5 bogus plot twists out of 10.

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There are a lot of scenes like this. The whole film feels like you’re chasing a plot twist.

 

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Sadly, there is no Tall Man in this film. It could use one.

 

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