Terrance, a man with mental health issues, recently had to file for bankruptcy. Soon after he gets a new credit card offer in the mail that he simply can’t refuse. Once Terrance receives the new credit card he buys a car for himself. It doesn’t take long for him to realize the deal is too good to be true, and he is being stalked by mysterious tall men who are ready to collect.
There are two things that intrigued me about this film. The first is that it had a unique story I had never seen done in a horror film before. The idea that creditors are bad guys out to get unsuspecting people who need money is nothing new. However, turn that into a horror movie and you have something that strikes a nerve with many viewers. Having financial troubles and going into debt is a fear almost every American has at some point in their lives. There is also an added layer to the story, because you can’t help but wonder if the events you see unfolding are actually happening or if they are all in the lead character’s head.
While overall the story was interesting, there were a couple of things I wish had been a bit different. The pacing of the film was a bit slow for me. It wasn’t just that the film moved at a slower pace, but there were long periods of time where there wasn’t any dialogue which made the film move even slower. Also, while I understand the filmmakers were trying to confuse the audience as to what was real and what wasn’t, some of the visions Terrance has just didn’t make sense to me with his mental condition (I can’t really go into more detail without giving away key plot points).
The other aspect that made me interested in this film is that this was actually the writer/director’s second attempt at the film. Jonathan Holbrook released the first Customer 152 in 2004. After deciding he wasn’t happy with what he created, Holbrook decided to redo the entire film and release it 12 years later. I wish I had been able to see the original version so I could compare the two, but it couldn’t have been all bad as it has a 5.3 rating on IMDB. I’m sure there are many filmmakers who would kill for the chance to redo a film or change something in their film they didn’t like. I commend Holbrook for being so dedicated to his craft, taking the time and money to recreate a film that he was proud of.
This film had a lovely cast of oddballs. All of the main characters are people with some kind of mental health issue. They all work together under a work release program. Dan Crisafulli (Grimm) was excellent as the lead, Terrance. It’s amazing to watch him in this film, then look at pictures of how he is in real life. He is almost unrecognizable. Crisafulli shined in this film because he was really rather pathetic and creepy, yet there was still something about his character that was likeable. Kay Whitney (Z Nation) was also great as Lucy, Terrance’s coworker and potential love interest. While we never really learn Lucy’s reason for being in this work program, Whitney expertly shows that Lucy is definitely a bit on the odd side. Although, just like Terrance, there is something about Lucy that draws you to her.
Since this film was a lower budget production, the filmmakers were smart in their use of effects. They are used sparingly, and all the effects are practical. The practical effects can be seen when Terrance has his visions. He sees things like his deceased mother in a monstrous form. The practical effects used on her hands and face are fairly well done, especially if you consider the budget. It almost reminded me a bit of the original Evil Dead film mixed with zombie makeup.
Tall Men is a film that turns a small, simple fear everyone has into what nightmares are made out of. You wouldn’t expect a plot like this to become a horror film, let alone one that is interesting enough to watch all the way through. While the film moves a bit slowly, making a few of the less intense scenes a bit on the boring side, it’s still enjoyable. The film has interesting characters, a unique plot, and it makes the viewer wonder where the line of reality lies. It makes me interested to see what Holbrook will do next, as well as Crisafulli.
OVERALL RATING: 6/10