If you are familiar with French horror films then the director Pascal Laugier needs no introduction (his previous films are explicit and traumatic to say the least) writes and directs ‘The Tall Man’. As with his previous offerings ‘Inside’ and ‘Martyrs’ the film as twists and turns leaving an uncomfortable feeling throughout and an unopened question at the end.
The Tall Man is a local legend in Koetaney, British Columbia where children have recently gone missing. Inspired by the internet phenomenon of the Tall Man here the legend is localised and mythologised; it becomes the explanation of children that have recently vanished in the area. The film starts with Julia (Jessica Beil) delivering a baby to an underage girl, thanks to the stepfather to a troubled family. We meet the younger daughter of this family Jenny Weaver (Jodie Ferland) later as a mute who draws and actually does know what is actually happening to the missing.
Julia goes home to her son David (Jacob Davies) who we believe she adores, after her husband – the local doctor – died a few years earlier. Tensions heighten when David is also kidnapped. Julia goes after the kidnapper crashing the van that has took him. At this point Jenny finds her and communicates that she would like to be taken also. Jenny still carries on her pursuit of the kidnapper. At this point the whole town turns against her. I’m not going to go any further into the plot as it would like ‘Martyrs’ spoil the film but the film as Laugier’s previous efforts there are a lot of red herrings that lead you down unexpected paths and nothing is quite what it seems.
The film as many twists and turns making it feel unpredictable none of the moral ambiguities are answered, there are only opinions for these things, not any real answers. I think is camerawork is excellent as always and there was a rumour that Laugier would have the chance to direct a remake of ‘Hellraiser’ a film in look that influenced ‘Martyrs’. However, that all fell through but I’d be really interested, on the strength of this film, perhaps he could direct a series.
The idea of rich and poor and class are scrutinised here with the ending an open discussion especially in the present state of the class divide. After all is class and money the only route to happiness or contentment? And when you do reach the ending of the film – though not his strongest work – you still have to think about what the film states and with its moral ambiguity.
I don’t think this is his best work it has a feel that’s a little like it should be a series to it. But at his weakest he still head and shoulders above what can be or seem a sea of dross. If you have a few hours to kill rent or buy this one.