In the Tall Grass (2019)

In the Tall Grass
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Writer: Vincenzo Natali
Based on: Stephen King and Joe Hill‘s novella
Cast: Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted, Patrick Wilson, Will Buie Jr., Rachel Wilson, Harrison Gilbertson
Seen on: 5.1.2022

Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) and her brother Cal (Avery Whitted) just wanted to take a quick break on their roadtrip when they hear a young boy crying for help in the field next to the road: he lost his way in the tall grass and can’t get back to the road. Becky and Cal head into the field themselves – and find that they can’t get back either. There is something strange going on in the grass.

In the Tall Grass is very notably a King/Hill adaptation. If that’s your thing, you will be well satisfied, though not particularly surprised. It is typical stuff after all. If that’s not your thing, you probably don’t need to try to see whether you like it anyway.

The film poster showing a grass field with a bloody hand stretching up out of it.

In the Tall Grass starts off well, with things quickly becoming unsettling in the grass that would be perfectly innocuous under different circumstances. I mean, is there something more peaceful than grass in sunshine? That Natali manages to wrangle dread from this is actually rather impressive.

But the story then quickly becomes more metaphysical, and with it, also a little boring, I have to admit. There are still strong visuals and Patrick Wilson gives his role his all (and it’s a role that needs 120% at least), but the quasi religion of the field really didn’t speak to me. (I did like the timey-wimey stuff which I understand was not part of the original novel.)

Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) jumping up in the grass, arms stretched up. In the distance somebody else does the same.

Part of that religious angle was also the way they treated Becky’s pregnancy which felt really weird to me, though I can’t put my finger on why exactly. Part of it was certainly the whole abortion vs adoption angle, and another part that the lives of the parents just seemed to be worth not as much as the baby’s life. But there was probably more to it than that.

In any case, In the Tall Grass was not a bad watch per se, but I did hope for a little more. Maybe I’ve just grown tired of the usual King stuff.

Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) between her husband Travis (Harrison Gilbertson) and her brother Cal (Avery Whitted).

Summarizing: for fans of Stephen King and Joe Hill. For others, not worth it.

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