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The Jessica Biel indie thriller comes this close to being a legitimately successful horror experiment....
Image / 106 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: September 25, 2012
The Tall Man was supposed to be a Sundance darling, an indie creep-out that affected cineastes and horror addicts with equal draw. It showcases a young actress on the rise (Jessica Biel), dark subject material (always a Sundance favorite), and some moody small-town philosophizing. How did this thing not rack up a few Independent Spirit Award noms?
Well, to start, it's not all that ambitious as a genre-skewing indie. Its tale of a small town dealing with the closure of its lifeblood mine and a hooded figure who rambles around nabbing children has the shape and feel of a millennial commentary, but there's not quite enough gas in the tank here. There are a handful of good scares to mention, and Biel might just turn out to be a legitimate star, but as The Tall Man reaches its finale, it's clear just how disposable it is.
With that information on the table, though, I must admit that I found a bit of a draw to The Tall Man's winking cinematic intentions. It's not a thoroughly engaging experiment, but it definitely wants to play with genre in fascinating fashions - in fact, its clear desire to be more than 'just another horror film' lends it an ambitious air that infuses a one-time viewing with captivating intrigue. The finished film never rises above its genre trappings, but The Tall Man nevertheless strives to be more than the sum of its parts.
If only that were enough....