Film Review: The Tall Man (A Gloomy Affair)

When I saw the cast for this included Samantha Ferris (Ellen from Supernatural) and William B Davis (Cancer Man from The X- Files) my interest was immediately piqued. This film has the same sort of spooky, rainy atmosphere of an early X-Files episode. It’s serious, creepy, it twists and turns, and exudes a sombre mood. For a different type of horror experience, I’d recommend it.

tallA pale, washed out Jessica Biel (that’s my way of saying any of you hoping for a hot Jessica Biel in a skimpy tank top won’t find her here) is a nurse in the rundown town of Cold Creek, Washington. Since the mine closed, the inhabitants have fallen further into poverty. It’s a dying town, made painfully obvious by the dull, grey colours and tones this film is shot in. Biel’s husband, the respected town doctor, passed away some years back, and the residents aren’t too supportive of his widow. Why? We don’t know. She lives with her son and nanny in a big house by the woods. Apart from the economic problems, this town is suffering from an epidemic of missing children.

Eighteen or so kids have disappeared. The townsfolk whisper about The Tall Man, a ghost story about a monster who kidnaps children, often in broad daylight. What’s even weirder than all these disappearances is the lack of concern by the greater world. Why are there no news reporters in town? Sure Cold Creek looks like it’s in the back arse of nowhere – picture the landscape of the horror movie Wrong Turn. It’s surrounded by woods, completely isolated from the outside world. But wouldn’t something this major make national news?

The nightmare of the missing children comes right to Biel’s door. Her son is kidnapped from his own bed and she gives chase. She is impressive as the protective mother. When a hooded man invades her home, ties up her nanny and takes off with her son, she follows him on to the road, grabs hold of the back of his van and hitches a ride, later tracking him through the woods, despite her serious injuries. She is tough, strong and determined. Then about forty minutes in, Bam! Everything gets turned on its head. What is going on in this horribly dreary town? Are the townsfolk in on it? And that’s all I can say plot wise without revealing the first of a few twists.

The film starts out strong. We see the figure of The Tall Man about a half hour in and there doesn’t seem like there’s anything supernatural about him. Take the paranormal out and it looks like we’re dealing with a human abductor of children, something that is scarier than monsters. There is a grittiness to this film. It exudes melancholy and despair and is always unsettling. The twists keep you wondering. While I couldn’t say I loved The Tall Man, it was definitely a change of pace from the horrors I’ve watched of late.

There are still a few things that didn’t make sense to me, but I think that’s the case for most psychological thrillers/horrors. I’d give it three stars for being different to anything I’ve watched before. ***


Can anyone recommend some horror films I should see?


About Emma

Buffy fan, avid reader, writer.
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29 Responses to Film Review: The Tall Man (A Gloomy Affair)

  1. I love the oldies… have you seen, “The Entity”?

  2. Ooo!! I remember seeing the trailer for this one. I need to check it out.

    We watched The Evil Dead last weekend and was excited to watch it. After all, the previews and reviews said it was the scariest movie of the summer. It was not. I was not at all impressed. Just your typical kids locked away in a cabin horror/slasher story.

  3. Mae Clair says:

    You write great reviews. I hadn’t heard of this one before but it sounds interesting. Have you ever seen The Other? It’s one of my favorite horror books. Saw the movie as a kid and recently picked up the DVD but haven’t had a chance to watch it again.

    • Emma says:

      Thanks, Mae. The Other? No, don’t think I’ve seen that one. Is it like The Others with Nicole Kidman? I’ll look it up.

      • Mae Clair says:

        It’s an old horror novel that was made into a movie. I think maybe early to mid 70s about two young brothers. I really need to watch it again to see if it holds up.

    • fuonlyknew says:

      I;ve been trying to find The Other. Saw it so long ago and still resonates with me!

  4. Another movie I completely forgot I ever watched (Hmmmmm, I should either watch less movies, write down what movies I have watched, or see a doctor about my apparent short-term memory problem). Or maybe only watch the really good and memorable films; I really want to see ‘The Conjuring’ that looks like a right proper scare, but I’ll probably wait for the DVD, just to many other things going on (I just hope I remember watching it).

    • Emma says:

      Don’t watch less movies – never watch less movies. I want to see The Conjuring too. As my family and friends have gotten older, they’re less willing to come with me to see a horror at the cinema, so looks like I too will be waiting for the DVD release. Now way am I going to see that film by myself.

  5. beckyday6 says:

    Great review, I’ve never heard of this film at all but similarly to you the cast intrigues me. I like the occsional spooky movie although I don’t watch them that often.

    Loved your comment about the washed out Jessica Biel!

  6. This actually sounds like something I would really like.

  7. sherry fundin says:

    Great review Emma. I love the Damien movies. The Omen was the first one. It was scary good. I watch them whenever they come on.

    • Emma says:

      I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen the original from start to finish. I went to see the remake and wasn’t impressed. They probably should have left it as it was?

      • sherry fundin says:

        If I really like the original, I find they can rarely top it with the remake. Yes, they should have left it alone. But for those that never saw the original, maybe it works.

      • Emma says:

        I’m going to pick up the original on DVD. It should be party of my collection.

  8. fuonlyknew says:

    Watched this a few months ago. I liked it. I especially liked the ending.

  9. I love that you do film reviews as well, Emma. I hardly have time to go watch a movie, never mind trying to catch one on TV. When I do have time to channel hop and happen to see a name that sounds familiar, I know it’s from you! I’ll keep my eyes open for this one.

    Oh, loved The Omen.

    • Emma says:

      Make time, Sandra. For me they’re all about escapism. I can leave the brain at the door for a couple of hours and get lost in another world.

  10. fuonlyknew says:

    Got off of work early today and it’s been raining kitties and puppies so I hopped on Netflix. Have you seen the horror movie Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh yet? I’m ambivalent about it. Though it did make me jump a few times! I think the ending was disjointed, maybe that’s what’s bothering me.

    • Emma says:

      Rain is the best reason to plonk yourself down on the couch, eat junk food and watch films. I haven’t heard of that one, but I’m off to look it up now. Thanks, Laura.

      • sherry fundin says:

        I agree. I have to have a book in hand or laptop open while I’m watching though.

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