This is a difficult to film to give any good outline of the plot because it one of those films that appears to be one thing but twists around so much that I really had no idea where it was going to go. This is unusual since I’ve seen so many variations of plot before that it really is rare treat to find one that had me guessing and not just thinking WTF.
Julia Denning (Jessica Biel) is a nurse in the run-down mining town of Cold Stone and the film starts with the police searching for a missing boy and police detective Lieutenant Dodd (Stephen McHattie) questioning a bleeding and shaken Julia while her injuries are treated by a nurse. We get a voiceover introducing us to the town and the curse of the missing children stolen by a character which locals have named the Tall Man, a large hooded figure that has been seen by locals. None of the missing children have been found dead or alive
The film jumps to 36 hours earlier and we see Tracy (Samantha Ferris) and her daughter Jenny (Jodelle Ferland) helping her other daughter Carol (Katherine Ramdeen) to Julia’s house. Carol is doubled over with crippling pain and Tracy begs for Julia’s help. They get Carol into the clinic and as soon as they get her coat off the diagnosis is obvious to everyone: Carol is pregnant and is in labour. Jenny helps Carol to deliver her baby, despite it being breach birth. The baby takes its time to start breathing for itself so Julia has to give it some artificial respiration to get it started. Julia has questions about how Carol got pregnant and hid it for so long and it’s clear after a couple of unanswered questions that Tracy’s useless violent boyfriend Steven is the father. Julia pleads with Tracy to get rid of him but she claims it’s complicated.
The town of Cold Stone is dying slowly and painfully since the mine closed which was the town’s only industry. This has put enormous strain on families and often it is the children who would suffer. On top of all that is fear of the Tall Man. Julia and her husband Dr Robert Denning (Garwin Sanford) had come to Cold Stone and set up practice after years of travelling in the poorest parts of the world and doing charity medical work. He really helped the town out a lot but when he died Jenny could not fill the gap he left but she tries her hardest.
Julia visits Tracy next day and Steven (Teach Grant) is still around, giving Julia grief for interfering in his life. Tracy tells Julia that she sent Carol and her baby to stay with her sister in Seattle and she needs to take her time with getting Steven out. Since baby and mother are gone Julia leaves but stops on the way to talk to Jenny who is the film’s occasional narrator. This is ironic because Jenny cannot talk and communicates with Julia by writing in her sketchbook or showing her pictures she has drawn. Jenny wants to know what Julia thinks of the Tall Man and Jenny dismisses it as a story but Jenny writes that she has seen him.
Julia goes to the diner for a coffee and one of the locals Douglas (John Mann) is sitting with Sheriff Chestnut (William B. Davis) talking about what sort of horror the missing children have gone through. Suddenly a bedraggled confused looking woman Mrs Johnson (Colleen Wheeler) appears at the window but doesn’t enter. Her son has gone missing recently and it seems to have unhinged her mind. Julia tries to take her a cup of coffee but she runs off in fear when Julia comes near her.
That night Julia goes home and her babysitter Christine (Eve Harlow) has been taking care of her young son David (Jakob Davies) while Julia was out. Now she’s home they can have dinner and David shows Julia a mathematical trick Christine taught him. After dinner David goes to bed while Julia relaxes with a drink.
Julia falls asleep in her chair but wakes up when she hears a noise. She finds Christine tied up and shoved in a cupboard. She hunts for David in his room and every room then sees a hooded figure in black carrying David away out the door. Julia goes after the figure to rescue her son. That’s when we start to discover the secrets of the Tall Man and that changes everything that we thought we knew was true.
I really enjoyed this film and I liked the way lets you get comfortable with the type of the story you think you are getting before whipping that all away. I can understand with the marketing that some might get the impression that is a horror story but it is really more of a mystery thriller that I had to keep watching to see where the film was going as every one my stupid guesses about where it was going were proven wrong.