It’s never a good sign when a movie is deemed so unmarketable that it doesn’t even have its own website. It’s also (and let me be frank here) never a good sign if that movie happens to feature Jessica Biel in the starring role. It’s not that she’s a bad actress, really, it’s just that any movie she features in seems to be either highly mediocre (Valentine’s Day) or so escapist and puerile (Total Recall) that it bombs its opening weekend. To be frank, I’m kind of amazed that she still gets offered parts in films and hasn’t fully transitioned to being Justin Timberlake’s tour manager. Must be those cheek bones that keep getting her work.
Her latest attempt at cinematic glory is called The Tall Man – and no, it has nothing to do with either Conan O’Brien or a random figure from the NBA. It’s a wannabe horror flick that has the very bad fortune of releasing alongside the infinitely superior suspense and horror movie, The Possession, this weekend. The movie tracks the sudden kidnappings in the Pacific Northwest where a “Tall Man” is snatching up young kids and nobody believes that it could be Bigfoot. A local nurse named Julia (Biel) who thinks the stories are hogwash turns a blind eye to the disappearances until her son goes missing. Then she’s forced in to a bizarre and strange parallel universe where children go missing and skulky, oversized figures draw their parents into a web of fanciful nightmares and endless chases in the mind.
There are too many bizarre twists and turns to take the movie seriously, which is a pity for Biel who actually does make a discernible attempt to act and give a credible performance. But even her beauty cannot overtake the sheer weight of the absurdity of the whole thing. The kids aren’t the only ones that end up vanishing – Julia herself is lost in half a dozen plotlines and story twists that are never sufficiently developed, explained, or explored.