In the Tall Grass is a Netflix film starring Patrick Wilson, Laysla de Oliviera, Harrison Gilbertson, Avery Whitted, Will Buie. Jr and Rachel Wilson. It focuses on a group of people who have entered a field of tall grass and are now trapped. It is an adaptation of a novella of the same name written by Stephen King and Jonah Hill. The frequency at which Stephen King churns out such disturbing and creepy content that can make you sick makes me wonder if that man ever has a peaceful night’s sleep. Constant contact with such disturbing ideas is unnerving.
If you have seen films about people trapped in a place with really tall elements of nature one thing that will unnerve you is the lack of sunlight present. A film that reminds me of a maze within the grass is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’s third Triwizard task. In this film at least there is a fair amount of sunlight during the day for the grass is quite amusingly just tall enough to be taller than the characters.
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Director Vincenzo Natali was like us in 2015 when he first read the novella which provided the source material for this film. “Who would think that grass could be so frightening?” In the tall grass’ opening shot is a take on the fourth word of the title. Taken from above it gives us a feeling that there is something in the grass. A Stephen King adaptation and the title would already have us expecting such a thing.
We see a sibling duo Cal (Avery Whitted) and Becky (Laysla de Oliviera) drive towards a presently unknown destination. The presence of the grass is ominous here as the camera let’s huge swathes of green dominate the screen either side of the thin grey strip of road. The song playing on the background has the lyrics it’s all right. Well as long as they continue driving and mind their own business.
Cal describes his sister as one who always puts the needs of others first. He tells her to learn to prioritize herself, but just seconds later as she decides to help out a voice that pleads for help Cal sighs and so do we.
Haven’t you watched horror movies? Do not enter such places. Playing good samaritans, they venture in. This is one of those scenes which qualifies to be a part of the series describing long-winded movies that could have ended within seconds had a character just done the opposite.
The grass is realistic and isn’t presented as monstrous as it was in Honey, I shrunk the kids. After Becky and Cal enter the grass, they realize that this grass is sinister. It is a field of nightmares. How the characters wish that they can tell their past or their future selves to not enter. Wait?
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There is bound to have been at least one time you have experienced a maze whilst dreaming. Quite often it is something that causes your eyes to open and break your sleep. You are scared and your dream self was perspiring which mirrors what the characters in the tall grass are going through. Director Natali remembers the minute details such as perspiration, exhaustion and mental fatigue which can be seen among most of the characters in the film, especially the pregnant Becky.
This field can move humans around and give them the feeling that they are being watched. The camera is often positioned behind the blades us grass which drives home the characters’ paranoia of being watched. The sound effects are marvelous for they convey the whispers of the field which adds to the aura of eeriness in the film.
What began as a tale with promise having an unseen enemy and the good guys being unable to find each other takes quite a dismal and unappealing turn. In the Tall Grass introduced some novel ideas such as a time loop as well as creepy interpretations of inscriptions that had the potential to provoke the audience into thinking of some Grassman cult. Characters were resurrected but no explanations were provided for anything that happened.
It seemed as though the director and his ideas were lost in this maze as well and upon jumping to find it he could locate it once, but not again, akin to a scene involving two of the film’s characters. After the halfway point the viewer too was lost just like the ideas of this film were. From what seemed to be an intelligent horror-thriller this film degraded and converted to a cheap slasher flick with violence in the dark which made me want to switch this off. Plus the In The Tall Grass Ending just ruins it for everyone.
This film is one just for the ardent Stephen King adaptation fans. If you are on board with content whose writers kind of forgot to tie up loose ends you could venture into the tall grass that this movie will lead you into.