This weekend, I took a few hours out my hectic schedule to finally sit down and catch up on some Netflix. In the spirit of Halloween and all things creepy, I searched up “Halloween” to see what I could find. The list was overwhelming, and I hope to cross a few more off my list this week as Spooktober comes to an end. But for now, I decided on In the Tall Grass. I’d say I made a good choice.
The film, produced by Netflix and written/directed by Vincenzo Natali, is based on the 2012 novella of the same name by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. So you know it’s gotta be good, right? I haven’t read the novella, so I can’t comment on how the film works as an adaptation; but on its own, I thought it was successful entertainment and kept me on the edge of my seat.
The story follows pregnant Becky and her brother Cal, who are on the way to San Diego. While stopped on the side of the road, next to an old abandoned church, they hear a young boy calling for help in the field of tall grass beside them. Concerned, they enter the field to find him; but something isn’t right. Something else is hiding in the field and watching them, and soon they wonder if they will ever make it out.
For the sake of not spoiling anything, I’ll leave it there. But I will say there are many layers and WTF moments in this movie (how are they surviving so long without food or water?). And maybe this quote will intrigue you: “the field doesn’t move dead things. It makes them easier to find.”
The cast is a good ensemble, and I would argue one of the best parts of the film. Made up of relatively unknown actors, I was particularly impressed with Harrison Gilbertson, who plays Travis. Patrick Wilson, who is no stranger to the genre of horror, also gives a stellar performance. You probably recognize him from The Conjuring franchise.
Despite the creepy nature, there is something artful and elegant about the cinematography. Natali includes a close-up shot of a single drop of rain settled on a blade of grass, and we watch as it slowly splits and drips down onto the ground. I can’t exactly explain its significance, but hey, it looks cool. It’s a shame that it can’t be admired in theatres on the big screen.
Overall the ongoing twists and dimensionality of the storyline kept me invested. I didn’t want to miss any detail for fear of missing out. I set out for thrills and spookiness, and while I wasn’t left scared per se, I was satisfied with In the Tall Grass. It has an audience score of 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, so make of that what you will. It does feel a bit drawn out in length, and the ending leaves you with more questions than it does answers. But I suppose that’s what I like about it; it’s one of those stories that you could watch over and over again and pick up something new each time. Or maybe it’s time to read the novella.