Courtesy of Netflix
Based on the novella by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill, “In The Tall Grass” is a familiar but effective thriller, which produces a fair amount of “WTF” moments.
A prime piece of content for Netflix subscribers this spooky season, “In The Tall Grass” - directed by “Splice” helmer Vincenzo Natali - relies on some classic tropes associated with a King adaptation: creepy, all knowing, children, and the fear of being unable to protect one’s family from an ancient thing that wants the characters to murder one another. As the film starts, we open on adult siblings Cal (Avery Whitted) and Becky (Laysla De Oliveria) who find themselves entangled in a field of grass, off Route 400, in the middle of nowhere. They hear the echoes of a small child and his mother calling from inside it, begging for help. After venturing in, they immediately find themselves just as lost as the child whose cries drew them in.
Inside the twisted field, the blades of grass so tall and the ground so muddy you can barely see or walk, the laws of time and physics are altered in a strange paradox. These elements are a tad confusing and the quick introduction of an overly confident midwestern salesman (a terrific Patrick Wilson) almost runs circles, literally, around the narrative. But like any slowburn King novel akin to “Misery” or “The Shining,” “In The Tall Grass” hints that something is on the horizon. So when Becky and Cal become separated and a family friend (Harrison Gilbertson) comes looking for them months after they disappeared, the revelations of how the grass operates is at least somewhat intriguing. It’s enough to hold a casual viewers attention who just happened to stumble across the title on a quiet October evening (even if they don’t know exactly what they’re watching).
Natali crafts an elegant looking picture under Craig Wrobleski’s excellent cinematography, who utilizes aerial coverage of the field to help to create a claustrophobic uneasiness throughout the film. Even David Rose’s crafty sound design can make you nervous as Natali plays with the angels and trickery of the framing. All these components, including a noteworthy performance from Oliveria, seemed to elevate a conclusion that never truly hits the right frightening cords (though the metaphorical implications surrounding religion as a whole is very digestible).
“In The Tall Grass” will be released globally on Netflix October 4th