Movie Review: In the Tall Grass

Ebony Foster

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Green is a color often used to evoke a sense of calm and reminds people of nature’s tranquility, unlike Vincenzo Natali’s “In the Tall Grass,” released on Netflix on Oct. 4. Endless shots of greenery raises anxiety rooted in fear of feeling lost. Disorienting camera angles and varying tracking shots offer no aid to viewers, causing them to feel as lost as the victims in the film. Nothing stays in place in the grass except for one: the dead.

“In the Tall Grass” stars Patrick Wilson from “The Conjuring,” who trades his heroic husband role for a more sinister one in this film. The movie is an adaptation of the book under the same title written by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. 

The story begins with siblings Becky and Cal, played by Laysla De Oliveira and Avery Whitted, who are heading to San Diego when they pull over and hear a boy pleading for help while his mother tells him to stop. 

Deciding to check on the child, Becky and Cal enter a tall, grassy field, only to end up trapped at the mercy of the grass in a physics-bending time loop, and they’re not alone. Another family is also stuck inside and in a shifting nightmare that makes them face repressed truths. 

While the film is beautifully shot, the dialogue is the main source of backstory. However, true to King’s writing style, none of the character’s backstories are explained simply. 

There are vague hints of why the families are stuck in a fatal loop, which could also be multiple timelines, since every version is slightly different from the previous. The only clear explanation is given by Wilson’s character, Ross Humboldt, a psychotic Patriarch who can’t be trusted. 

It is not King’s most terrifying work, nor is it the most scary adaptation. However, it is far from the worst, as we have King’s “Maximum Overdrive” and “The Langoliers” to claim that title.  

If one enjoys a story with a resolution that contradicts its novel counterpart with no drastic need for clear backstories, and can keep up with converging timelines, this film might be worth watching.  

In the end, both viewers and characters are bound by the same initial question: Do you step into the tall grass?