[Review] In The Tall Grass (2019)
Based on a novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill, “In the Tall Grass”. When siblings Becky and Cal hear the cries of a young boy lost within a field of tall grass, they venture in to rescue him, only to become ensnared themselves by a sinister force that quickly disorients and separates them. Cut off from the world and unable to escape the field’s tightening grip, they soon discover that the only thing worse than getting lost is being found.
Netflix’s “In the Tall Grass” is a promising story from the start but tends to get a bit muddled and confusing as it progresses. It begins with Cal (Avery Whitted) and his pregnant sister Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) driving together on an isolated Midwestern road surrounded by a huge field of tall grass, heading to San Diego to meet up with a couple that’s interested in adopting Becky’s unborn child. How interesting is it that we have a story from Stephen King that does NOT take place in Maine? Right?
Soon enough the two stop by the side of the road because Becky gets sick as a result of her condition. It’s then that they hear the screams of what sounds like a small boy begging for help deep within the field. The brother and sister team plow in to eventually find the little boy who tells them his name is Tobin (Will Buie Jr.) and that his parents, Natalie (Rachel Wilson) and Ross (Patrick Wilson) are also lost somewhere within the grass.
Similar moments are repeated numerous times throughout the movie, and they soon become more agonizing for viewers than the onscreen figures. The little boy begins to tell them weird things such as “If you don’t pay attention, they go away.”
We then see the boy’s father, Ross (Patrick Wilson) showing up in a normal, concerned fashion, but it’s not long before we realize he appears not to be the friendly father figure we originally thought he was. Now enter Travis (Harrison Gilbertson), Becky’s ex-boyfriend and the father of her unborn child, who has been frantically searching for her nearly 2 months. This is when the film seriously goes off the charts. Temporal time loops start to happen, you learn this once little Tobin enters the tall grass field a second time, but I think time loops in movies are fun. There’s no doubt left that this is definitely a film right out of the Twilight Zone!
Yes, some of the characters do some stupid things and make very bad choices, but what makes a horror movie in the first place? People that do stupid things and make bad choices! I have to give the kids props, however, they weren’t completely stupid all the time, for example, they placed Tobin on their shoulders high above the grass so they were able to successfully navigate through the mysterious grass for a while. I thought that was a smart and useful way to overcome the tall and never-ending maze.
But of course, the plan completely fails, but I still enjoyed seeing they at least tried to figure their way out. The film also has a lot of layers and symbolism. For those who are familiar with Stephen King’s writing, you will surely know that faith, religion, mental and physical violence, and family concepts are the base of most of his creative process.
The cinematography is beautiful but most of the set looks the same, being in the middle of a tall grass field, and I feel that the majority of audiences will be a little too distracted by the grass itself. It does have character and can be extremely creepy at times. I found myself becoming distracted as I tried to figure the grass out and how it worked, it really played with my focus.
Most likely because the images were all so crisp and vibrant, every single blade of grass was rendered to total perfection because the HDR brought out the subtle color changes in the surrounding vegetation. The sound was also amazingly done. One thing I can say about most Netflix films is their careful use of visuals and sound.
As far as the characters, all of the actings were spot on, and my only suggestion would have been that they fleshed them out just a little more, I feel that would have helped greatly. The ending itself made me wonder if Travis was going to be stuck there forever, or if the kid stopped everyone from ever going into the field in the first place. If you liked films such as The Happening, Cube or Children of the Corn, you might end up liking this one as well. Just make sure you pay close attention to details, and go in knowing about the religious symbolism and you’ll be just fine.
Title: In the Tall Grass
Release Date: October 4, 2019
Runtime: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Drama
Starring: Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted, Patrick Wilson
MPAA Rated: TV-MA
Director(s): Vincenzo Natali
Reviewed by: Mike Davidson
Our Rating: 3.2 /5
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