Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Tall Man (2012)

**This review contains spoilers**

In a small and oppressed mining town, a mysterious figure known as The Tall Man abducts children. The children are disappearing, the police don’t have any leads to follow, and families continue to suffer the wrath of the elusive child abductor.

Julia (Jessica Biel) is the town nurse, and she lives alone with her son, David. Julia enjoys a quiet and normal life….. until David is taken by The Tall Man. Without any help or protection, Julia immediately pursues The Tall Man. The distraught single mother must save her son, and uncover the identity of The Tall Man, but an unexpected car crash changes everything.

If you’re expecting a horror film, then you need to stay away from The Tall Man. Don’t believe the trailers, because The Tall Man is a mystery/drama film.

After the first abduction, the story takes a bizarre turn. Julia tries to catch up to The Tall Man by herself, so she can save her son. During the pursuit, Julia is taken by The Tall Man. Along with her son David, Julia becomes a hostage, but on their way to The Tall Man’s hideout, Julia is able to cause a distraction, and The Tall Man loses control of his van. But when Julia recovers from the crash, The Tall Man and David are gone.

With the help of the police force, Julia is taken to the local diner for food and clean clothes. Here, the townspeople keep an unusual close eye on Julia. When Julia goes to the bathroom to change clothes, the townspeople try to make a citizen's arrest, but Julia quickly escapes the diner, and before the townspeople have a chance to catch up with her, Julia runs into the woods.

Why are the townspeople trying to capture Julia? She just lost her son to The Tall Man, so why are they trying to harm her? And here comes the first twist! The person, who kidnapped Julia’s son isn’t The Tall Man. The kidnapper is David’s biological mother. Oddly enough, David’s real mother wears clothing similar to The Tall Man’s known description. David’s biological mother is a poor woman, who lives alone, and Julia was the assigned mother, who provided a better life for David.

The first twist caught me off guard, but second twist is just mind-blowing: Julia is the mastermind/leader of a secret operation that takes children away from neglectful and abusive parents, who can’t afford a normal lifestyle for their children. The Tall Man is Julia’s husband, originally pronounced dead at the beginning of the film (Julia spread the lie to protect her husband's identity). Julia’s husband abducts underprivileged children, and he places them in homes, where foster parents promise to provide better lives for them. Plus, Julia’s husband provides the foster parents with new documents (new name, birth certificate, social security card, etc.).

Okay, so at this point, I’m really sucked into the story. Julia is in jail, because she’s the only known suspect the police can find. The babysitter, who helped take care of David was one of Julia’s trusted accomplices, but when the police stormed Julia’s house, she committed suicide by hanging herself.  In an attempt to force Julia to reveal more details, David’s biological mother has a talk with Julia in prison. Julia takes the blame for The Tall Man’s crimes, and then she drops the bombshell on David’s mom: the children aren’t missing, they’re dead. Devastated, David’s mother leaves the prison with no hope, Julia becomes the most hated person in America, and she might receive the death penalty.

But another twist changes the direction of the story again. The children aren’t dead. It was a lie. Julia had to protect The Tall Man operation. She had to keep the cops and other law enforcement agencies off the trail. Someone had to take the fall, and Julia wanted to be that person, because she wanted to keep her dream alive. All of the children, including David (earlier in the film, Julia eventually took him away from his biological mother again) are safe with their new families. Jenny, a mute child and a friend of Julia’s is the most recent child to be taken away by The Tall Man. Throughout the film, Jenny begged Julia to let The Tall Man take her away, because she wanted to escape her mother and alcoholic boyfriend.

Jessica Biel is strong in the leading role, and The Tall Man features a solid supporting cast. Your enjoyment of this film is going to depend on your reaction to the series of plot twists. Personally, I don’t think there’s any middle ground. When it comes to the plot twists, you’re either going to love them or hate them, it’s that simple. I LOVED the constant twists and turns, and I’m glad they didn’t turn this into another predictable horror film. An ordinary horror story about some mysterious boogeyman kidnapping children would’ve been lame, but The Tall Man goes the extra mile. It’s a thought-provoking mystery/drama film, and The Tall Man delivers some fantastic shockers along the way.

Final Rating: 7/10

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