Monday, October 29, 2012

Scarefest 2012 - The Tall Man

Today's Movie:  The Tall Man (2012)

Starring:  Jessica Biel, the Cigarette Smoking Man from 'The X-Files', one of those actors that you see all the time but never know the name of.

Plot:  An old mining town trapped in a downward spiral is terrorized by a child abductor known as The Tall Man.  That's pretty much it only it doesn't even begin to describe the plot in even the slightest way, shape or form.  I will explain below.

Gore Factor:  Mild. Biel does have the living shit beat out of her throughout the film, but there aren't any graphic murders or gory scenes.

Nude Factor:  Sadly, since Biel is one of my hottie crushes, none.

Scare Factor:  Not much.  The lone creepy scene happens early on.  This is less a horror movie than an action thriller. 

Review:  This is a difficult movie to review mainly because I went in expecting a certain type of movie, watching the first half as if it's setting up that EXACT type of movie, only to have it turn the tables not once, but three times along the way (may actually be four now that I think of it, but you get the idea).

Phase one:  Biel is a county doctor (really a nurse who took over for her deceased husband) who becomes a victim of The Tall Man when her son is abducted.  Not taking such things lying down, she proceeds to chase the kidnapper down, manages to crash his truck, and track him into the woods only to lose him.  Not a bad way to start things off.  She is found by a Federal agent who has been coming in to work the missing children cases for a few months.

Phase Two:  The Fed strangely takes her to a local diner instead of a  hospital because....well...mainly to further the plot along.  While there the towns folks act weird towards her and it seems as if this entire town is in on the child abductions.  Biel becomes wise to their conspiracy when she sees the picture of her son on an altar surrounded by candles.  Is the entire town involved in some sort of cult that sacrifices their own children???  Biel escapes out the back door and the entire diner goes after her. 

SPOILERS BELOW!!!!!!!!!

Phase Three:  Biel hides in the back of the sheriff's car (who is the weakest link and showing doubt about this entire thing) and manages to find her son.  Only she's knocked out by the kidnapper (Biel's character takes so much trauma to her head in this film she would have been brain dead in real life)  She awakens to find herself strapped to a chair while the resident crazy lady explains that the boy is actually her son and that Biel is the one who kidnapped him.  Wha, wha????  Is this lady telling the truth or is she nuts?

Phase Four:  She's not nuts.  Biel's character is the one behind all the kidnappings and it now appears she is working for The Tall Man and killing children left and right.  She manages to get loose and 'gets rid' of the boy (she ominously brings him into the basement) before the cops come to arrest her.

Conclusion:  But WAIT, she's not killing the kids (even though she admits she did), turns out she's 'saving' them from a social service standpoint and getting the kids to wealthy families and providing them with a better life.  Um.....what?

The premise is really confusing and stupid, but there is talent behind this film.  The director (no idea who it was and too lazy to look it up) sets up scenes to provide maximum impact (the opening CPR scene with a newborn, the arrest scene where Biel is taken out through an enraged town, the chase when her son is kidnapped, the diner scene that turns menacing).  The script also plays on our expectations by opening the movie with her bloody and battered and the Fed saying something that leads us to think one thing when it really means something else entirely when that scene comes around again.  

All that said, this movie was all over the place in tone and logic.  How is this convoluted plot to better kid's lives any more effective that a standard social service program.  Biel's character at one point says 'The system is broken', but how is this stupid, convoluted plan any better?  Not only that, but her partner in crime is her husband (not dead, btw) who lets his wife go to jail and possibly face the death penalty.  How is this effective?  And who are they to decide what life is better for which kids?  These parents obviously love their kids and are devastated when they're are taken.  Just because they are poor doesn't mean they aren't good parents. 

And that's not even getting into how some characters react.  Biel could have easily just walked away with her husband at one point but chose to stay to get arrested.  Her partner in crime fucking hangs herself instead of just getting out.  All of this makes even less sense when it's revealed that there is some secret organization behind all of it and Biel was just one of their agents.

Bottom Line:  While there are some very effective moments throughout the movie, the script lacks the logic and Biel nudity to make this worthwhile.  I applaud the filmmakers attempts at creating something surprising and unpredictable, but the entire plan behind bettering kid's lives is flawed. 

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