In the Tall Grass (2019)

in the tall grass poster 2019 movie
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Fields can be creepy and disorienting

Needs more story direction and less arbitrary magic solutions

Movie Info

Movie Name: In the Tall Grass

Studio: Copperhead Entertainment

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  September 20, 2019 (Fantastic Fest)/October 4, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

in the tall grass patrick wilson rachel wilson

Cover your ears…don’t listen to the cries

Pregnant Becky Demuth (Laysla De Oliveira) is travelling to California with her brother Cal (Avery Whitted).  When stopped beside a field of grass in Kansas, Cal and Becky hear the calls from help of a lost boy named Tobin Humboldt (Will Buie Jr.) deep within the field.  Journeying into the grass, Becky, Cal, and later Becky’s ex-boyfriend Travis (Harrison Gilbertson) find that what could be lurking in the grass might never let them go.

Directed by Vincenzo Natali, In the Tall Grass is a horror thriller.  It premiered at Fantastic Fest in September 2019 and was released on Netflix on October 4, 2019.  The film is based on a short story by Stephen King and Joe Hill which was originally published in two issues of Esquire magazine (June/July 2012-August 2012).

I’ll always give Stephen King (and now his son Joe Hill) a chance.  While I’m often disappointed by the films and sometimes the stories, I feel that at least King tries.  It is also interesting to look at King’s work as a whole to see his personal tropes, pitfalls, and themes and now seeing how he’s passed them on to his son.  In the Tall Grass is the typical example of a Stephen King short story that probably worked better as a short story instead of a feature length film.

in the tall grass monster

Hey, It’s Grassy-McGrassface!

The story for the movie is a bit frustrating.  The movie is built around looping time within a field of long grass.  The time is unstable (you can “correct it” without fear of paradoxes), but like a Twilight Zone episode, everything that the characters seem to attempt can’t break them out of the cycle.  This essentially boils down to the “magic” solution which is always a cop-out to me since you can arbitrarily change the “rules” of the story to end it.  This movie could have been ten minutes or it could have been five season (aka Lost).  It just was a matter of how long the story was continued.

The cast is rather bland.  Laysla De Oliveira has the meaty role in that she has to play pregnant, tired, scared, and frustrated through the whole film.  Her brother played by Avery Whitted has to be likeable but also has a bad turn (which leaves the ending a bit sour since you’ve seen his true nature).  Will Buie Jr. isn’t a bad kid actor, but the strange part of the film has to be the much underplayed Patrick Wilson who plays the heavy.  He never seems to have much range in his characters, but he does generally get them right.

in the tall grass becky laysla de oliveira monsters

Turns out it is just Kansas’s version of the Burning Man…crowd surfing…alright!!!

The movie is also visually problematic.  The film is quite limited since the idea is being trapped in a field of tall grass.  This is compounded by the fact that once night hits, it is even harder to see what is being shown.  The field has a mysterious big “thing” in the center that seems to be the focus of the energy, and the arbitrary nature of that kind of fits with Stephen King’s M.O.  I find the cornfields of Children of the Corn a bit more frightening because with vertical lines of corn, it is visually deceiving instead of just completely “lost” aspect of the grass.

Netflix has a habit of picking up these films of King.  It had 1922 and Gerald’s Game.  Both of those films had good and bad parts to them.  In the Tall Grass is similar in that respect, but the movie seems to drag even more toward the middle and end.  I know how creepy and disorienting it can be to be stuck in the middle of a big field…but I wish that the movie had a bit more going for it instead of just that and the cliché mama drama that leads to the crisis.  As warned in Lost World:  Jurassic Park…stay out of the long grass.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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