In The Tall Grass (2019)

tall-grass

Director: Vincenzo Natali

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Harrison Gilbertson, Laysla De Olivera

Review Author: Tony

It’s spooky season finally, and it’s time to indulge in horror films of every calibre. Halloween has been our favourite month since the inception of the blog as we can explore the most flexible genre in film, horror, from camp to terrifying. While we have a stacked schedule ahead, we thought we’d take a gamble and see if Netflix’s In the Tall Grass can bring the streaming service three for three in Stephen King adaptations.

In the Tall Grass is actually a collaboration effort from King and his son, Joe Hill. We’d love to give our thoughts on their novel but honestly we only heard of it when the trailer dropped but with the recent King renaissance we thought it was worth our attention, especially since we have been positive in our reaction to the two previous Netflix adaptations, Gerald’s Game and 1922.

When siblings Becky and Cal pull over for the nauseous and heavily pregnant Becky to take a breather, it surprises them to hear the cries of a young child in a nearby film covered in tall grass. After mutually deciding to enter and help the distressed child, they find themselves trapped in a supernatural Labrinth where little makes sense and dark whispers surround them.

Netflix film’s have a tendency to miss more than hit and I’ve concluded that an over ambitious hands off approach often leads to inexperienced filmmakers losing track of themselves. Creativity should be encouraged, but films are a collaborative effort that relies on a lot of experienced departments such as writing and cinematography. In the Tall Grass has experienced filmmaker Vincenzo Natali bring a visual flair and more subtle approach to a tense contained movie.

Narratively speaking it’s a pretty familiar concept in the same vein of 2009’s Triangle and a previous film by Natali called Cube. This familiarity reveals a lot of horror cliches but there’s a descent amount of tension and shock value to keep the pulse running and some sporadic moments of gore and nastiness to make In the Tall Grass standout from movies with a similar story. It carries the mark of King’s work but more reminded me of the gut punch storytelling of his short stories rather than the complex narratives of his novels.

With a concept shrouded in supernatural mystery it reveals very little about the events that are occurring which leads to a frustrating amount of lag and repetition in the films middle act. I’m usually one to enjoy a mysterious or evil entity remaining unanswered or unsolved but when the film keeps reminding you of the core rules repeatedly, you begin to feel the films runtime (a bad sign when it’s relatively short to begin with).

Thankfully, some strong visuals, decent scares, and an over the top but entertaining performance from Patrick Wilson helped ease narrative shortcomings. In the Tall Grass is a contained and not overly ambitious film that delivers a forgettable but fun thrill for horror enthusiasts.

Rating: 3/5 pints of Guinness

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