In the Tall Grass is one of the more recent offerings to watch on Netflix. Has the streaming giant succeeded in transforming the Stephen King and Joe Hill novella from page to screen?
Whether you’ve read his books or not, you know the name Stephen King. In his time, the Master of Horror has written well over ninety novels and more than two hundred short stories. For years, filmmakers have tried to get adaptations of his work right.
Now, comes director Vincenzo Natali and Netflix’s attempt to adapt King’s second co-effort (since 2009’s novella Throttle) with son Joe Hill into a feature film.
In the Tall Grass: The Story
The setup for In the Tall Grass is simple enough.
A pregnant woman named Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) and her brother, Cal (Avery Whitted), take a desolate highway cross country with acres of grass serving as their only backdrop.
When pulled over for a stop, Becky and Cal hear the voice of a young boy calling for help from the field of tall grass. Not wanting to ignore the child’s cries for help, the siblings step into the field and find themselves immersed by swathes of green grass towering over them.
The boy’s voice continues to beckon for help. Not only can’t Becky and Cal find the boy in the field’s confusing greenery, the two get separated.
Things worsen when Cal and Becky’s sense of time and place begins to skew, and day quickly turns into night. Horror, inevitably, ensues.
Turned Around In the Tall Grass
King previously admitted most of his stories are based on “situations,” where he doesn’t always know the ending.
In the Tall Grass, which he co-wrote with his son, Joe Hill, is no different. If you see the movie before reading the story (like I did) you could have a hard time figuring out where the story is going.
Given his approach to writing, maybe King didn’t know either.
The Netflix movie certainly plays out that way on the small screen. One wrong turn in the grass field leads our characters to confusion, claustrophobia, and terror.
Each of the movie’s twists and reveals might makes sense in the larger picture, but each one plays out like a series of small and contrived conveniences.
Twists, Cinematics Make the Difference
Overall, and in typical King tradition, a psychological nightmare unfolds as our characters seem to disappear and reappear in different parts of the grass field. Close to each other one minute, far apart the next.
As other characters are introduced into the mix, the film takes a sharper turn toward the dark, leading the audience into witnessing some strange and sadistic situations play out in the grass field.
Technically, the film is well made with clever cinematography that establishes the tall grass as a character in itself.
Also, the music is surprisingly good; the horror movie’s score echoes with tribal chants and an ancient undertone that may hint at an older civilization being the true culprit of the grass field’s mysterious qualities.
In the Tall Grass Movie Trailer
If you like the work of Stephen King and have joined the bandwagon of unique, experimental horror that trades blood for brains, then you’ll probably dig In the Tall Grass.
It’s a lush garden of ideas, themes, and twists that will keep you guessing.
What did you think of the film adaptation of this grass centric Stephen King and Joe Hill team-up? Let us know in the comments below!