ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Tall Man (2012)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Pascal Laugier

Starring:
Jessica Biel/Julia
Jodelle Ferland/Jenny
Stephen McHattie/Lt. Dodd
William B. davis/Sheriff Chestnut
PLOT-CRUNCH
Kids have been disappearing in the run down town of Cold Rock, Washington, USA. The town folks blame a local legend they call The Tall Man for the kidnappings. And when it's the town nurse's (Jessica Biel) turn to lose her brat to that shady figure, she'll have none of it and strives to get him back! Sounds simple enough right? It's not.
THE LOWDOWN
All I knew about THE TALL MAN (Also known as THE SECRET in some territories) was that it was written and directed by French PASCAL LAUGIER (of MARTYRS infamy), starred hot to trot JESSICA BIEL and had nothing to do with The Tall Man character from the great (well Part 1 and 2 anyway) PHANTASM franchise. I was personally really excited for it; I loved MARTYRS, Biel is always good in my books and it wasn't a remake or a sequel; ORIGINAL HORROR baby! Yeehaw! So how did it fare? Well goddamn, I said goddamn!

As we all know many foreign filmmakers get foo-barred when they come over to the States to make their first Studio movie. The Studio machine holds all the cards, usually takes over the show and what comes out of it is usually a sub-par and compromised piece of work. Well not for Laugier. THE TALL MAN was a success on most fronts and I applaud him for pulling off making this type of movie within the Hollywood machine. Now if you go by the trailers, the US poster and even the synopsis; you expect one kind of movie from THE TALL MAN. And if you're a die hard horror fan, you already know that kind of film like the back of your sack. Thing is Laugier knows that; and via his challenging screenplay, he took me for quite the loop the loop and kept me on my toes (probably why it's not getting a wide theatrical release... too "out of the mold"). Huge props to this sucka for keeping me guessing throughout. I loved how known genre conventions were turned on their heads and used to fool me, to then eventually send me in a whole new direction, hence making me ask myself a new slate of questions. Every time I thought I had the whole she-bang figured it out, boom, another ace was dropped on the table, resulting in a brand new game to tackle. It had been a while since my one brain cell was worked this much during a horror movie. It's exhausted now and needs to mellow out, but hey, thanks for the mental exercise! Laugier's somber and haunting visuals added to the experience as well. I so grooved to his areal shots, slow push-ins, the thick/oppressive atmosphere he conveyed and his sly use of the surroundings (the forest, the dark desolate roads, the run down buildings... brrr) to up the macabre vibe of the picture. Kamal Derkaoui's dread filled cinematography also contributed to this one's chilling look. Horror art in motion!

Acting wise, this was first and foremost Jessica Biel's show. Now I've always liked Biel. Problem is, she's too damn attractive and has a body to kill for. So often enough when an actress is THAT good looking, it's hard for her to get her dues in terms of talent, cause peeps have trouble seeing past them fine attributes! Well THE TALL MAN should fix that. Not only was it the meatiest role Biel ever got to sink her teeth in; but it also resulted in her best performance to date (in my useless opinion of course). Biel had a slew of varied notes to hit here and she nailed them all with gusto. The secondary cast was tops as well. Jodelle Ferland and Canuck Samantha Ferris brought layers and intensity to their roles and it was swell to see veteran Canuck actors William B. Davis (The Cigarette Smoking man from The X-Files) and the always charismatic Stephen McHattie (He'll always be Dick Irving in Maurice Richard to me) do their thing. Two talented gents that always better the films they are in with their presence! Topple on top of that a handful of visceral, tension laced scenes and an unexpected social commentary that arose more and more to the surface as the clock ticked forward to finally leave me with deep thoughts at the end; and you get a full celluloid feast, one that went against the grain, had me working my grey matter and yapping about it with my date afterwards.

Any beefs? Not too many. I did feel that the first 15 minute or so were edited oddly as to the chain of events. I had trouble plugging into the happenings. I also wished the film would have served up more suspense. Don't get me wrong we got a couple of toe biting scenes, but the situation begged for more of them. Also, the picture sold itself as a look at “small town Americana” but I didn't buy it! It felt all Canadian to me (probably cause I am Canadian)! The town folks, the distinct surroundings (the flick was shot in British Columbia, Canada, that didn't help)... didn't scream USA to me. Should have set it in Canada. And was it me or did Stephen McHattie vanish from the thing in the middle? Lt. Todd was sorely missed! Lastly, I nailed one of the film's big secrets off the bat, not really a fault, just me bragging as to how much of a Mr. Smarty Pants I am. So yeah! THE TALL MAN was a pleasant surprise! The trailer, poster and plot line led me to believe I was in for one movie, and to some small degree I got it. But as the layers were peeled off bit by bit; I was bamboozled to see that I was truly watching something smarter, deeper and meatier. So, you gonna arm wrestle this TALL MAN or what? I suggest you do!
GORE
We get some cuts, nasty dog bites and some brutal acts, but nothing to write home to Ma and Pa about. Gore was not this one's M.O.
T & A
Nope! Not here! Look elsewhere, like under my couch!
BOTTOM LINE
THE TALL MAN was like somebody selling me a Big Mac, but after three healthy bites out of it, I realized that it was truly a high end Sirloin steak I was chewing on. Cleverly written, clip paced, morbidly gorgeous, with some tension, countless back-handing plot turns, a tour de force performance by Jessica Biel and an ending that KO-ed me; THE TALL MAN started my day on the right stab! Yes the first 15 minutes felt off (to me anyway), it reeked of all Canadian (when it was trying to pull off small town Americana) and more suspense would have been swell; but on the whole; I was taken for quite the thought provoking ride and was sent to the mat as the end credits rolled. Am curious to see how it will play out with audiences when released, could go either way, it's a ballsy movie, it took lots of chances and it won't be for everybody. But hey, I loved it, all that matters in my bubble of a world! Hope yall do too!
BULL'S EYE
The movie was shot in 2010 and had a budget of $18,200,000.

Pascal Laugier was set to do the Hellraiser (1987) remake at some point but left due to creative differences with the producers (yup The Weinsteins). Good for you man!)

Jessica Biel was also one of the film's executive producers.
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3:09AM on 10/03/2012

A Movie to Talk About

Great twist and turn movie that is getting shunned by mainstream Hollywood even though it has a bankable, sexy starlet in it. Definitely the best movie/performance of Biel's career and furthermore a great conversation movie morality wise. It did remind me slightly of a 2008 film with similar theme, hardcore film buffs will probably know what movie i'm talking about, but that takes nothing away from this gem. The Tall Man reigns supreme. Can't wait for Laugier's next project. First Martyrs now a
Great twist and turn movie that is getting shunned by mainstream Hollywood even though it has a bankable, sexy starlet in it. Definitely the best movie/performance of Biel's career and furthermore a great conversation movie morality wise. It did remind me slightly of a 2008 film with similar theme, hardcore film buffs will probably know what movie i'm talking about, but that takes nothing away from this gem. The Tall Man reigns supreme. Can't wait for Laugier's next project. First Martyrs now a way less graphic mind bender. Goes to show blood and guts (although appreciated) don't always embody a good genre movie
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9:40AM on 08/06/2012

Good review, good movie!

Agree with Arrows review. Really good movie and a great turn by Jessica Biel.I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it.
Agree with Arrows review. Really good movie and a great turn by Jessica Biel.I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it.
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12:52PM on 07/29/2012

Excellent

Just saw it and was blown away. The first half was intense as hell and then...well, wont say anymore except the intensity became much more psychological. Its too bad this is being advertised as a horror film because most audiences may be put off by where this film goes...But for those who enjoy an intelligent, mind game filled thriller...its a must. And Jessica Biel is amazing
Just saw it and was blown away. The first half was intense as hell and then...well, wont say anymore except the intensity became much more psychological. Its too bad this is being advertised as a horror film because most audiences may be put off by where this film goes...But for those who enjoy an intelligent, mind game filled thriller...its a must. And Jessica Biel is amazing
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12:50PM on 07/09/2012
I have not seen this yet but gave it a 4 for the review. I have been a fan of Pascal since "St. Ange" and "Martyrs". I have been waiting for this movie for couple years. Great to know it will be worth it.
I have not seen this yet but gave it a 4 for the review. I have been a fan of Pascal since "St. Ange" and "Martyrs". I have been waiting for this movie for couple years. Great to know it will be worth it.
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