From director Pascal Laugier (remember Martyrs?) comes a movie called The Tall Man, which was often believed to be the world’s first Slender Man film. Now it’s been released and those who were hoping for a Slendy-movie won’t be particularly happy.
For those not in the know, the Slender Man is a supernatural character whose sinister deeds include abducting children, screwing with people’s minds, eating humans, distorting time and space, waving his tentacles about and standing around menacingly. Ever since they made a game based on the character, whose roots are on a creepy Something Awful forum, he has gained quite some fame and several people would love to see him on the big screen, making him one of the only Internet celebrities who probably deserves a film.
But once more, The Tall Man is not really what the fans are looking for, although wasn’t meant to be, it seems.
The plot – Jessica Biel portrays Julia Dunning. She’s the one who delivers babies for the women in a very poor mining town in Washington. But when the town’s children are old enough, a person emerges from the woods – a tall man who brings these children with him, never to return. One night, Julia finds her hired babysitter tied up and gagged with her son David (the tediously underacting Jakob Davies) nowhere to be found. She does, however, manage to catch up with the suspect who is just about to leave with the boy in their van.
After finding out that chasing the van on foot into the woods, increasing her chances of getting caught by the bad guy, doesn’t quite work, Julia tries to get some help from Lieutenant Dodd (Stephen McHattie) and Sheriff Chestnut (William B. Davis) to track The Tall Man down, since she is convinced that he is the man who took David. But then, a plot twist happens and we find that Julia’s story might have to be told from another perspective. Or something. Either way, there’s no Slendy.
Still, the film does have aspects of the myhtos in it, though the director has apparently stated that he did not make the plot up with Slender Man in mind. There’s also several online defenders of this film – all of whom, by some peculiar coincidence, decide to go pseudo-intellectual about it and start off their arguments with “Oh please, allow me to laugh” or “Hah, allow me to educate you” – who claim that this has nothing to do with the mythos at all and that all similarities between the mythologies of Slender Man and Tall Man (which, hilariously, is one of Slender’s many altarnate names) are either coincidental or not there at all. So yeah, there you have it, folks. The Tall Man doesn’t have Slender Man in it, kinda like how that Italian animated ripoff of Titanic doesn’t technically have Jack and Rose in it, therefor: no relation. Enough said.
Sure, there have been many stories of tall men abducting children even before the Slender Man character became a thing. But there are so many elements in The Tall Man that seem to be taken straight out of Marble Hornets that it’s hard not to think there was some inspiration for the film within the mythos of good ol’ Slendy. One wishes the beloved Creepypasta had a role in the film, though, since that would have added some quaility to it. As it is, though, it’s pretty forgettable.
It’s with all the plot twists that The Tall Man can be a bit annoying, as it often feels like the twists are just there for their own sake and add little to no astonishment. It has been said by a wise man that just because you don’t see it coming doesn’t mean it’s a clever twist. Also, they make it pretty vague as to whether part of the twist is that Julia was in fact evil all along or if it’s just a misunderstanding or if she has forgotten it? Should one root for her or fear her? At times it is hard to decide.
But other than that it’s pretty dull and uninteresting, particularly in terms of story and horror elements. Many themes and concepts were borrowed from other stories and works, only with some modifications. Even the opening sequence is a bad copy of the floating 3D title cards seen on Fringe.
There are some good performances in The Tall Man, though. Jessica Biel plays her role well, in spite of it being a rather puzzling character, and Stephen McHattie makes for a pretty badass policeman. Jodelle Ferland wasn’t too bad either. Also, the cinematography is quite pretty at times. Even so, a word of advice is that you wait to until the movie Entity comes out, if a film featuring the Internet’s favourite faceless, supernatural stalker is what you wish to see. The Tall Man will only make you want to see Entity more. Or maybe just some good ol’ Marble Hornets. Whichever works.