It’s been almost ten years since Jessica Biel last delved into the horror genre in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and now she returns in Pascal Laugier’s The Tall Man. Biel plays Julia, a nurse who lives in an isolated town where children suddenly start being abducted by the ‘Tall Man’.
An entity whose legend exists in many cultures around the world, The Tall Man is always described by his height and featureless face and is known to take anyone he appears to, particularly children. While the fantastic cult hit Youtube series Marble Hornets’ explores the concept that The Slender Man (As he is also referred to) can take anyone, this feature focuses more on the original myths.
And who better to bring out the relevance of this legendary fable than Pascal Laugier?
In the jarring 2008 film Martyrs, Laugier took audiences through an almost unbearable but riveting story of a girl who had escaped being abducted who grows up and seeks revenge for what happened to her. Without giving too much away, the movie was truly a horror film that explored the hideousness of the human conscience in unimaginable ways-ways that once you see the movie cannot be unseen.
Biel’s affirms her interest in becoming involded with The Tall Man is credited to her appreciation of Martyrs. “I loved that film. I mean, it was incredibly brilliantly done. The violence is almost unwatchable, but that was the point, I think. I just thought he was the master with that film.”
For those who haven’t seen Martyrs, Laugier brought an intensity that came from the most unexpected places and circumstances. In most torture-gore films you don’t really care about the characters that are being put through unrealistic and ridiculous situations, but this director has proven that he could strike fear back into audiences by making the audiences believe that the terrible things his characters go through could actually happen.
Bringing the truth of a story out of his cast is a point in favor for The Tall Man, which starts with the skeptic Julia (Biel) having to accept the possibility of the existence of this entity when her own child goes missing. Biel describes her experience with Laugier, “He did bring that same sort of intensity. It was such a hard film to shoot. He was ruthless with and relentless with his desire for me to go further and further and further emotionally into this character which is why I wanted to do the movie. This woman, she’s living in a small town where children are being kidnapped, so there’s this terrible thing that’s happening and then her child gets taken. She ends up seeing it happen. She follows this being or whoever it may be after this kid and then, this story takes these crazy twists and turns.”
The marriage of myth and modern social ideas, is hardly ever pulled off. Another notable film that stepped the game up in revitalizing that relationship in the horror genre on our main land was Cabin in the Woods (Martyrs has reached some audiences here but mostly overseas). It takes directors who can re-conceptualize ideas that for ages have haunted societies that really impact storytelling experience in our day and age.
It truly is also a deep collaboration between director and actor, that fundamentally makes a story real as Biel explains,“Pascal, in his directing style, which just pushes you to your limit where you say, “I can’t go any more, I can’t do any more” and then he pushes you and like kicks you off the edge and you explode into something, some kind of transcendence of…I don’t know what it is where you just like black out. You don’t know what happened and you give a performance that is unlike anything you ever even knew existed within you. So I’m pretty proud of it. I don’t know if people will love it or not, but it’s an interesting film. I think I give an interesting performance.”
Quick Horror Geek Questions
Q: Favorite horror film?
Beil: Favorite horror film, The Shining.
Q: What about obscure horror?
Beil: Obscure. Is it called The Changeling, that original. The Changeling, is that with the red ball going down the stairs? Pretty terrifying, more obscure. If you haven’t seen Martyrs, you should see Martyrs.
The Tall Man hits theaters September 5th