In the Tall Grass (Fantastic Fest 2019)

In the Tall Grass (Fantastic Fest 2019) Cover

In The Tall Grass is a horror film that releases on Netflix October 4th. It’s written and directed by Vincenzo Natali and based on a novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill. The first act is exceptionally interesting, exciting, tension-filled, and I couldn’t help but be inquisitive as to how the story would play out. Unfortunately, the film fails to keep the heightened momentum of the attention-getting introduction.

Siblings Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) and Cal (Avery Whitted) are driving and stop on the side of a field of tall grass, as the pregnant Becky isn’t feeling well. She vomits. Before the duo can get back to driving they hear a young boy’s cry for help, saying he’s lost in the grass. This boy’s name is Tobin and he’s portrayed by Will Buie Jr. At first, it sounds as if he is really close to Becky and Cal and so Cal decides to venture in and help the child. Becky follows calling the police but quickly loses signal. Oddly, Tobin’s voice starts to sound more distant and distant and our characters begin to fear that there may be no way out of this mysterious large field. Patrick Wilson is in the movie and he plays Tobin’s father named Ross. He’s mysterious and you wonder if the characters should trust him. Harrison Gilbertson plays Becky’s baby daddy named Travis and he comes into play when he begins to wonder about Becky’s whereabouts.

The execution of the setup is riveting and chilly. If you hear a child crying for help, any kind-hearted person would want to go in and help. Becky and Cal are both likeable characters and the actors give convincingly well performances. Lots of times in horror, we’ve seen the writers will have our characters make stupid choices in order for them to fall into peril. I didn’t think that our characters were dumb for going into the field of grass. If I heard a child crying for help I would want to help them and this gras for some mysterious reason made it seem like the boy was just a few feet away. The film raises some interesting questions early on- like why does the grass behave in this way? Is someone behind this phenomenon or is the grass just cursed? How did it become this way? Will our characters survive? If so, how?

Instead of answering these questions in a compelling way, the film goes in circles repeating lots of similar scenarios and it doesn’t quite make sense, as time becomes an element that the grass can alter. In the Tall Grass really reaches a disappointing point when it starts to feel inconsequential. There’s a moment you think someone is dead but then you see them alive and well minutes later. The film has its reasoning for this but I found it to be convoluted. It no longer feels grounded in reality. Instead, you’re just forced to wait for the ending to give you the answers.

Grass can only be interesting to look at for so long. It’s interesting to imagine how this feature would have played out as a short film. Despite the fact that I was tired of looking at grass after 45 minutes, the film is beautifully shot. Colors look good. There’s some decent tension between characters fighting and the action can be a bit brutal. If the setup is enough to hook you, In the Tall Grass may be worth checking out if you are really curious to discover how the story will resolve and don’t mind some bizarre answers to this mysterious tall grass.

Final Verdict:In the Tall Grass doesn’t end as tall as it begins
Rating:C+