In the Tall Grass (2019)

Directed by Vincenzo Natali

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In the Tall Grass is a strange, meandering little horror film based on a Stephen King novel.  A brother and his pregnant sister stop next to a corn field in the middle of nowhere, they hear a boy’s voice in the field calling for help, they go to investigate and quickly find that there’s no discernible way out.

It’s a neat and tidy little premise, but the film (and I suppose the source story itself) spends too much time trying to explain this mystery.  There’s a little clearing in the “tall grass” that leads to some strange, alien artifact that when touched will change you.  One of the group touches it and voila, now he’s the villain.

But that mystery isn’t all that interesting.  What is interesting, or should be, is the interaction between these very mundane, ordinary characters as they’re thrust into a supernatural setting.  They go through some version of the five stages of grief as they attempt to reckon with their sudden predicament, but even then the film yanks you out of their narrative and into another.

The film is fragmented, as is time itself within this universe.  It’s two months after the brother and sister disappear that the sister’s boyfriend (and father of her unborn child) shows up looking for her.  He stumbles across the exact spot at which they disappeared, ventures into the field, predictably gets stuck, then calls for help and attracts the attention of a young boy who himself was the one that attracted the brother and sister into the field.

So time is cyclical and never ending, with each of the three ‘groups’ of people there to lure and to be lured, just cogs in this supernatural machine.

And that’s all well and good, but then the film spends unnecessary time digging into their own melodrama, their life before this rupture.  The film, and others like it, tend to suggest that should we find ourselves in some version of hell or purgatory we’ll spend the rest of our days working out the conflicts that should have been addressed in therapy.

So the film is what it is, a perfectly fine but underwhelming Netflix movie.  You get the sense it was made cheaply and efficiently, content churned out to satisfy some segment of the population identified through a supercomputer-generated algorithm.

Up Next: Phoenix (2014), The Parts You Lose (2019), Parasite (2019)

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