The Tall Man is a well made thriller film with a couple of good twists which make you re-think what you have seen before. In small town America where poverty and deprivation are rife and children go missing with alarming regularity, Julia is a nurse who runs a clinic for the people of the area. Despite her efforts to better their lives and those of their children the locals are mistrustful of her . When Julia’s child goes missing the locals start behaving in a very suspicious manner indeed.
Opening shots and voice over establish that the town is impoverished following the closure of a local mine and that lots of children have gone missing. Julia is introduced as a young girl is brought to her clinic in labour. Julia discovers that the girl’s mother didn’t even realise that her daughter was pregnant but was aware that her boyfriend was sleeping with her. It is strongly implied that this kind of thing is not uncommon in this town.
Julia is concerned about the welfare of the baby but the father and the grandmother are resistant to her visiting to check on it, the mother doesn’t seem to get an opinion. Later on we are introduced to Christine and to David, a young boy, who both live with Julia. Christine seems to be a live in nanny who looks after and teaches David while Julia is out at work. Julia’s husband is mysteriously absent and the town seems to take this as a personal loss and somehow Julia’s fault.
In the night (a dark and stormy night) Julia gets up to investigate a strange noise and finds Christine tied up and David gone. A shadowy masked figure is seen leaving the house carrying the boy. The figure’s appearance matches the description of the local urban legend “The Tall Man” who is widely blamed for the high child disappearance rate. Julia chases the kidnapper through the woods and the rollercoaster ride begins. I won’t say any more about the plot after this point.
The film is very nicely shot with atmospheric locations that emphasise the vast area that the missing children could be hidden in and the run-down nature of the town. From the start there are some good action sequences as Julia chases frantically after the person who stole her child.
The twists are quite cleverly revealed and rarely are there any points where previous actions make no sense as often happens when films try to do this kind of thing. I’ve actually watched this film twice now as I accidentally rented it forgetting I’d already seen it and the early scenes still work very well even when you know how it is going to end.
Once all (or almost all) has been revealed at the end some of the actions of some characters don’t make a lot of sense and feel a little like they were engineered to produce a more dramatic story rather than as any kind of believable action by a character. They are given an explanation later on but to me is seems an unlikely and unnecessarily difficult outcome.
The film does seem to go on a little too long. It’s only 1 hour 45 minutes but could probably be 10-15 minutes shorter. I don’t usually say that but the epilogue feels a little too long and preachy, it is obvious by then who did what and why and the ending could be tighter. Overall though it is an interesting thriller with not to much ridiculous behaviour and some interesting turns in the plot.