More like a tall tale. This horror/thriller/flop is an example of the trickle-down effect of mainstream, Halloween horror. Director Michael Cuesta (12 and Holding) makes a last-ditch effort to harness a few screams before the season of "Ho, ho, ho." Unfortunately, Tell Tale is more likely to coax the same reaction from audiences as Josh Lucas does from Brian Cox: a big "Ha, ha, ha," - and then some.
Lucas stars as Terry Barnard, a heart-transplant patient whose daughter, Angela (Beatrice Miller), suffers from fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), a rare genetic disorder that slowly alters the muscles and tissues of the body into bone. When Terry becomes romantically involved with Dr. Elizabeth Clemson (Lena Headey), the physician in charge of Angela's case, he is relieved to be on the road of recovery from financial and personal stress. Things go awry, however, when Terry experiences odd attacks, accompanied by flashbacks of which he is not familiar, when coming into contact with certain strangers. After discovering that his doner, a man named Vieillard, was brutally murdered, Terry realizes that his symptoms occur in the presence of Vieillard's killers and that his heart is seeking revenge for a crime more gruesome than he could ever conceive.
With the exception of Josh Lucas and Beatrice Miller, the cast of Tell Tale is expendable. Brian Cox (Running with Scissors, Troy) lingers as Detective Van Doren, a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed investigator who becomes aware of Terry's covert actions towards the film's antagonists and responds by goading him into the completion of his man-hunt. Likewise, Lena Headey (300) is the archetype for the age-old use of beautiful women on camera, which is to provide the the male lead with a shallow love-interest lacking any purpose of her own. The surprise ending does not enhance Headey's character. Rather, it is a desperate attempt to secure a reaction, any reaction, from audiences who will be more excited to see a documentary on plant growth. In slow motion. Tell Tale is a primary example of a film which does its best to undermine the much-loved horror genre - one debilitating beat at time.
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