Friday, 8 February 2013

Tall Tales.




He's behind you.


I went into this film expecting some lame Slender Man cautionary folk tale. It didn't disappoint, or rather it did because that’s exactly how it set up its stall. It was a tick box yard sale of horror cliché. Spread out on the previously used table we found a desperate small town, dark woods and an assortment of inhabitants clinging to the edges of society. Throw in a group of missing children, a bogeyman and box them up ready to store in the shadows of the damp garage at the back of your mind.

Then it did something that’s lacking too much in genre films these days. It surprised me. It didn't hang around and shock me like a cheap gag (stop being paranoid ‘Cabin in the Woods’ I don’t mean you) I do but don’t tell it. It wasn't some inward meta-analysis or tacked on twist. It was the essence of urban legend.

No, not Cab in the woods.
It achieved something films like ‘Cabin in the Woods’ tried and failed to do, (go back asleep Cabin we mean a different film) we don’t mean a different film. It found the root of horror. Not the root of horror films, which was done to perfection in the first ‘Scream’ film, it poked around for the horrors that lurk in the recesses of our minds. It examined our ideals and drove a shovel deep into our morally flawed society. It did this to discover where these scary tales are born.

‘The Tall Man’ isn't a perfect film; it’s not even a perfect horror film. In fact fans of Pascal Laugier's previous horror masterpiece, 'Martyrs', may not agree with his new approach. It has some solid performances, notably Jessica Biel, and some genuinely scary scenes. It has a message about who we are and how we treat each other. All of which could explain why so many horror fans poured cans of hate on the film then exposed grinning faces in the sulphur light of struck matches. Yes I have just listed some of the same things that annoyed me about ‘Cabin in the Woods’. 

Stop! In the name of blood.
Yes okay I do mean you Cabin sorry. Now shut up and go fuck yourself, (by which I make a better sequel). So I can understand the hate. The same hate gore fans spat at Wes Craven’s ‘Scream’ for example. A lot of people feel horror should be straight, no tangents, no meta-trickery and certainly no intelligent observation of the real world. 

At first I thought ‘The Tall Man’ was a tedious horror and then I thought it wasn't horror at all. By the end I realised it’s the most chilling sort of horror film. It was one where all the stories originate, real life.

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