The Tall Bland Starring Jessica Beige

Oct 17th, 2012 | By | Category: Columns, Eileen: This is Your Brain On...


October is my favorite month, and I worship it each day by watching scary movies, reading horror novels, going on haunted tours, and perhaps getting arrested for trespassing while ghost hunting in a steampunk Lizzie Borden costume.

Suffice to say, Halloween is the best ever. And what’s always fascinated me in general about scary movies or scary books or scary politics is what frightens some people might not frighten others. For instance, I found The Ring pretty dull (of course, it was 6:00 AM when I watched it, so I was pretty sleepy. Also, drunk), but a children’s film like The Dark Crystal still disturbs the hell out of me.

Thank God then, for The Tall Man, a film that will only horrify your sense of plot continuity.

The film begins with the insinuation that there is a sinister being roaming the streets. It has  monstrous lips and empty eyes. It’s voice is a vapid purr. It has skin as white as alabaster and as soft as a ShamWow.  It’s name is Jessica Biel and she also executive produced this film.

Our story begins in Cold Rock, Washington, a quaint little hamlet town that is suffering due to “the mines” closing down.* For Biel and director Pascal Laugier (director of Martyrs**) this means Cold Rock is poor, and is full of brokedown cars, tires, barrels and people sitting on couches outside absently scratching at their mountain-folk stereotype.

Two things Cold Rock doesn’t have (other than money):

  • Traffic lights
  • Minorities

But what it lacks for in diversity and an organized road system, Cold Rock has plenty of teens impregnated by their mother’s younger boyfriend! Indeed, BIEL (or Julia, in the film), who plays a nurse, helps one such teen (Carol) give birth to said bundle of unwanted joy at an abandoned school that would probably have appeared in a Soul Asylum video (runawayyy trainnn never going backkkkk), or a documentary about meth labs.

“Oh shit fuck, it’s breached!” BIEL might not have said, but she did probably say “just push!” and then a gigantic 40-pound baby gets yanked from a 16-year-old girl’s magic place. The horror has already begun! The baby isn’t breathing, so mother wheels daughter out of the room. BIEL  gives CPR to the baby behind a textured glass door. She moves the baby around like it’s a box of Kleenex or a birthday cake shaped like a baby. It starts to cry. It lives! Let’s shove some candles into that newborn and call it a day!

Instead, BIEL talks to the mother (Tracy) about her boyfriend wanting to illegally bone her daughters. “That bastard has never made a secret of not liking my girls,” says Tracy. “He’s always parading around like  a rooster, with those stupid cowboy boots. He’s always teaching them things and this and that.”

Well, a rooster that wears cowboy boots is certainly pretty fuckable in my book, but I also had an unhealthy obsession with Disney’s Robin Hood. What I’m trying to say is that no matter how terrible you make BIEL’s hair, she’ll still never be considered a serious, great actress and my anthropomorphism addiction will never be cured!

Ten years of intense psycho-sexual therapy hasn’t changed my feelings!

Anyways, all these white kids (and one vaguely non-white kid with a white parent) are disappearing! There’s a news reel and everything! It talks about how “no one” cares that all the wonderfully pale children of Cold Rock have vanished. Well, this certainly should be considered a horror-fantasy movie cuz it’s the other way around.

But who cares! Let’s look at BIEL’s breathtaking bone structure all swaddled up in an “aw shucks” cardigan as she shows up at the local diner. There, disgruntled people are talking about The Tall Man and an FBI guy from Silence of the X Files Lamb: The Musical, shows up. (What Cold Rock really needs is a sanitation guy to clean up all those abandoned couches, tires and barrels.) They all start talking shit about the woman running around outside who went crazy because her kid vanished. BIEL is the only one who refuses to talk negatively about the woman because she’s boring and doesn’t have any fun.

YAWN

BIEL goes to Tracy’s the trailer house (with premium outdoor couches and tires!) to see the huge baby and it’s smaller mother (Carol) and Mr. Rooster-Boots  (Stephen) is there! Here, I will present to you, without any snark (none needed), their conversation:

STEPHEN: “Who do you think you are?”

BIEL: “I know who I am?”

STEPHEN: “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

It means she doesn’t have amnesia Rooster-Boots, so don’t even try to make her think she’s sixteen so you can do her on a premium outdoor couch.

The audience then discovers that BIEL had a doctor husband but he’s dead now. The audience also learns that Tracy has shipped Carol off to relatives and BIEL is upset about it, so she goes to visit the other daughter, Jenny, by her couch on the water. Jenny is mute and communicates her Kurt Cobain rage through her notebook, in which she also asks BIEL about The Tall Man. She’s like “Seriously BIEL, what’s with that guy?” BIEL sips from her delicate teacup and says nothing.

BIEL goes home to her giant Wisteria Lane house for adorable family time with her probably kid and her maybe maid (Christine) and they have the best time to the soundtrack of guitar music from a hot yoga scene in a Yoplait commercial. Then everyone goes to bed and BIEL goes to the kitchen to drink some milk and finds Christine on the floor with a bloody nose. BIEL screams for her son David and I’m so shocked because I thought David was a little girl this whole time!!

My bad, adorable asexual.

BIEL sees an intruder in a black mask carrying out her son-daughter and she trips over a chair! It’s only twenty minutes in and two women have already been smacked in the face. (Yes, I’m counting.)

She runs after some weird looking milk truck from hell and grabs on to the back of it.The van stops and the guy gets out of the van and then a dog attacks BIEL and bites into her hand and she hits the dog in the face with a rock, then gets hit by the dude and thrown into the back of the van where her kid has NOT WOKEN UP. BIEL has blood running all over her face but the dog looks great. He’s polite enough to just growl and gnash his teeth as she sticks her hand into a randomly open tank to untie her hands. She then reaches through the glass and grabs the dude and the dog grabs BIEL’s ankle and her kid wakes up and screams and then the van careens right into a huge fallen oak tree just lying in the middle of the road and it flips over.

WOMP WOMP

David/Danielle gets up on the top of the van and is like “WTF?” and The Tall Man (?) appears and Davielle lets the man carry him away and Jenny the mute girl sees this on her bike and goes over to the truck to see if she can maybe adopt a new vicious dog. But she rides away before she can really ponder on sociopathic dog responsibilities. BIEL drags her dog bitten ankle and bloody head and mangled hand into the woods to follow the man!

Then there’s a whole mess of BIEL screaming for Davidelle and she falls into quicksand and pulls herself out of the quicksand and sits on some moss and cries and cries and cries and then turns around and curls up in the middle of the street until a car slowly approaches her. It’s the dude from X-Files With Lambs: The Musical. He pokes her gently and says “Mrs. Denning?” as if it’s quite common for him to roll up on a hysterical woman covered in blood. (Maybe he was Carrie’s date for the prom?  ZING!)

Instead of taking BIEL to THE HOSPITAL, he takes her to the coffee shop where everyone is gathered to look at her dog bites! Wow, this is a small town, must not have been able to get the rabbit ears to work for the sports game playing on the one TV they all share.

“Go get cleaned up! Then you can tell me what’s going on!” promises the lady-owner. Perfect! I’ll just go vomit out the sick for a few hours, refresh my face by slapping some Neutrogena on my gaping wound, and then we can have some girl talk!

We get a shot of BIEL half naked putting on clothes STILL WITH A GAPING WOUND. But hell yes, BIEL in her underlooms! Quota to see a distraught bleeding woman half-naked fulfilled! She finds a shrine of all the lost kids with some beads and a big crucifix. The cook goes to check on her and proclaims BIEL is on to them! She escaped! THE BITCH IS IN THE FOREST. They all get their guns and pitchforks and metal pipes and laugh and run into the woods. Staring at a woman’s dog bite at 2 AM  just got INTERESTING.

A doddering old sheriff goes into some abandoned building and BIEL pops out of the back of the car where she’s been hiding. Her flesh wound has dried nicely! She hears the sheriff tell someone in the house that people are after BIEL.

She totters over more barrels and  cars and into a factory that is also a church and maybe a kid’s playhouse and probably an al-Qaeda hideout? But probably just a drop-off for human trafficking. What matters though is BIEL gets whacked right in the head wound and is promptly tied up by The Tall Man, who turns out to be the crazy lady outside the diner.

TWIST!

But then the crazy lady outside the diner says that BIEL is The Tall Man! BIEL kidnapped Daniellvid! “You know how a mother feels when a child doesn’t recognize her?” The maybe not crazy lady says. She then reveals that her momentary insanity made her walk around in the woods  to find her missing son and BIEL had him the whole time in her huge dollhouse! Totally not crazy lady tells BIEL the whole town was in on her master plan of re-kidnapping her kid and crashing a van into a tree with a sociopathic dog.  Okay that’s still kind of crazy, lady.

BIEL doesn’t answer and she gets HIT IN THE FACE. So she punches crazy lady in the face too and crazy lady falls against the fridge and gets knocked out. There is more joyful ladypunching in this movie than a Reddit thread.

Mute Jenny is in the hall, waiting for BIEL! She has Davidielle and Biel Quasimodos up to them. They pick a car (so many choices!) and drive back to BIEL’s nightmare house where hopefully Christine is still waiting on the floor for them. She’s not, that bitch!

“It’s over,” BIEL The Tall Man says to Christine-not-lying-on-the-floor.  Jenny wants to go see The Tall Man who actually isn’t Biel (twist?), but some dude who lives in BIEL’s basement (where Davidielle is delivered).  “I gave him your name, perhaps he’ll come” says BIEL, “but if you say something in the wrong way he’ll come for you in a terrible way no one will imagine.” I can imagine he will probably punch Jenny in the face since this movie is big into that.

Remember the bloodthirsty mob? They’re outside BIEL’s door and boy, are their arms tired! They are banging at the door and sad music is playing as BIEL takes a nap on a red couch, which really brings out her head wound. There’s pictures of her photoshopped with kids from other countries and some old guy too. Then there’s ambulances and cop cars! And she’s in cuffs. Also, Christine hung herself. Bummer.

The house is searched and the cops finally decide to go into the basement WITH A SECRET TUNNEL. Turns out there’s nothing actually in the tunnel, but man, it was really cool watching them walk through it for two minutes.

After some hemming and hawing and life in prisoning, the audience finally figures out why there are so many abandoned barrels in Cold Rock. I mean, what happened to the children. Yes.

You see, BIEL and her old man husband are part of a secret society that steals children from poor destitute families because those families are pretty much screwed, amirite? So they kidnap the children, brainwash them and adopt them out to rich people.  BIEL’s husband faked his death so he could become The Tall Man and usher the children out of the town, while BIEL just–kept them in the house and played pirates and fed them mac and cheese. Oh, and took the rap for eighteen murder counts! True love, right there.

Two months pass and BIEL is still in jail getting cat-called. And in Cold Rock, children are sad because they haven’t been kidnapped. Except Jenny! She got herself stolen and now she lives in the Big City but she wonders if she’s “really happy?” I mean, sure she’s rich now and getting an education and can talk but is she REALLY HAPPY. “I guess it’s better this way? Right?” she asks. “RIGHT?” she says, staring straight into the camera.

No, bitch. It’s not right to kidnap a shitload of children from a destitute town because “the system is broken” and BIEL and her doctor husband are so twisted by their classicist ideals that they think they can kidnap and brainwash children instead of using their money, power and education for advocating a change instead of fueling the fire to an already fucked up life people below the poverty line are already living.

What I’m saying, Jenny, is if you wanted to get away from your parents, join the goddamn Peace Corps.

 

Happy Halloween, everyone!

 

*  What is in “the mines” is never known (Gold? Copper? A plot?)

**If you’ve ever seen Martyrs, you’ll be amazed that Laugier directed this film. Yes, Martyrs was pretty disgusting, but Laugier’s style is so neutered in this film it’s barely recognizable as something he’d create.  This is often a problem when directors translate their work to American audiences. Shove those cut-off balls in your pipe and smoke it, Hollywood!

———-

If you decide to dress up as The Tall Man for Halloween, just make sure you’re a super rich old white dude. And then totally call me!

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