Fantasia 2012 – What To Expect When You’re Expecting Laugier: The Tall Man (2012) Review

Not a horror movie, that’s for damn sure.

OK, producers, we fucking get it. Pascal Laugier is (in)famous for 2007’s extreme torture porn flick Martyrs, but to classify The Tall Man as Horror simply as a means of capitalizing off the director’s previous fame is low. It’s fucking low, and downright dirty. If I wasn’t such a civil and classy gal, I’d have half a mind to punch you square in the genre-lying teeth. Do you guys remember that creepy fucking scene in Dumbo, when Dumbo gets drunk, and sees those terrifying pink elephants singing “Elephants on Parade”? Yeah, that scene was scarier than the whole of The Tall Man.

What you must understand, dear readers, is that while it is now classified as “crime/drama/mystery” on, The Tall Man was categorized under Horror at the Montreal Fantasia Film Festival. And it was absolutely anything but. I would have brought my 66-year-old mother to see this movie. That’s how unhorror it was.

First and foremost, when I hear the phrase “The Tall Man,” my mind wanders to those happy times of my youth, which were spent watching Angus Scrimm in the Phantasm flicks, so I get that I was probably automatically setting myself up for disappointment, but still.

The plot of the movie, without revealing any spoilers is along the lines of this: Children of Smalltown, USA, go missing. Disappearing without a trace. Smalltown, USA, denizens create story of “The Tall Man” in order to explain the kidnappings. Theories about ghosts and monsters arise. One woman doesn’t give up, and tries to find her son.

the tall man

So you see, plenty of room for awesomely spooktacular creeposity, right? WRONG. The creepiest thing about The Tall Man, was Jessica Biel‘s vacant stare. You know that phrase, “the lights are on, but nobody’s home”? I don’t even think Biel’s lights were on during the filming of this movie. Remember when she used to be totally cool, like in Seventh Heav…―I mean Blade: Trinity!? She was great in Blade: Trinity, wasn’t she?

blade trinity girl jessica biel abigail

Don’t get me wrong, my darklings, I do feel kind of terrible ripping this movie apart so thoroughly, so to be completely honest, if I didn’t know if was written and directed by Pascal Laugier, and if I hadn’t thought it was a Horror flick, and instead went in expecting a dark drama (I’m being nice, here, kiddos), I probably would have enjoyed it, and been properly satisfied. But I did, and it wasn’t, so I didn’t. The writing was well done, and the camera work, and (most of the) acting were pretty good. The sad, slow-motion shots of the kids disappearing were soundly depressing, which I suppose is what they were going for, so I’ll give them some kudos there too, but the main saving grace of The Tall Man, was Jodelle Ferland, as mute youngster, Jenny.

the tall man

A mere 18 years old, as of October 9th, Ferland is from British Columbia, Canada, and is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite actresses. I first noticed her as the creepy little ghost girl, Mary, in Stephen King’s TV mini-series Kingdom Hospital, in 2004, and was astounded by her talent even then. She’s only managed to hone her craft to near perfection in the succeeding eight years, and has blossomed into a classical Hollywood starlet. You’ll also recognize her as Sharon and Alessa in Silent Hill, Bree in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and Patience in The Cabin in the Woods. If you don’t know her yet, you will soon. She is the cutest thing to hit the big screen since Dakota Fanning in Man on Fire.

Verdict: [rating:2.5]

I’m a big fan of Pascal Laugier. Both Martys and House of Voices are on my list of beloved Horror movies, but I was so disappointed with The Tall Man, that I was almost completely distraught. I walked out of the theater with a sense of emptiness, like “that’s not all there is, is it? I must have missed something.” But I didn’t. Well, in reality, I did. I missed the fucking HORROR that I was promised. I missed Jessica Biel at the top of her game. I missed blood, and guts, and brutality! I missed two hours of my fucking life, that I’ll never get back. Do not see The Tall Man with the idea of Martys stuck in your head, or you will also miss those hours that could have been spent watching something actually worthwhile.

Stay Scared, kids.

the tall man
Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
Year Released:
31 August 2012 (USA, limited)
Pascal Laugier
Jessica Biel, Jodelle Ferland, Stephen McHattie
Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Horror?
Official URL:

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