Review: ‘In The Tall Grass’ Keeps Getting Lost In The Weeds...Over And Over

Netflix’s foray into Stephen King adaptations continues with In The Tall Grass, which was a collaboration between the horror legend and his son Joe Hill. Becky (Laysla De Oliveria) and Cal (Avery Whitted) DeMuth are two siblings that are driving cross country to San Diego. Becky is pregnant and planning on giving her baby up for adoption in San Diego and Cal is tagging along for some strong morale support. When a bout of nausea strikes Becky, Cal pulls over next to a field of tall grass so she can throw up. From inside the grass the two siblings hear a boy named Tobin Humboldt (Will Buie Jr.) saying he’s lost and calling out for help. Heroically they both decide that the best course of action would be to absentmindedly race into the field to find him and help get him out.

The two of them quickly get separated and as the day wears on and they can’t seem to manage to find each other…or a way out. The DeMuth siblings begin to sense that something sinister is going on in the field. The field seems to be distorting their senses – changing their locations and perceptions of how close they are to each other. Cal does eventually find Tobin, while Tobin’s father Ross (Patrick Wilson) stumbles upon Becky. Needless to say, when strangers approach you while you’re aimlessly wandering in a giant field seemingly in the middle of nowhere, be cautious. Luckily for the DeMuths, Becky’s old fling Travis (Harrison Gilbertson) comes to try and rescue them – all he has to do is find them.

In The Tall Grass is a novella that is roughly 60 pages long. About 20 minutes into the film a good 75% of the source material had already been shown. That’s approximately the first of many times where the film goes off the rails. Books are usually better than their film counterparts, and a lot of time that has to do with sheer numbers – films have a limited runtime to get through the most important aspects and tell you a (hopefully) coherent story. In this case, with In The Tall Grass being as short as it is, there was ample opportunity to really capture the novella. The ability to fit in many little interesting details the book provided was there, and for some reason writer/director Vincenzo Natali left out numerous aspects that really added to the story.

That being said, there are some redeeming qualities to In The Tall Grass. The first is Patrick Wilson’s performance. His portrayal is fantastic – with a creepy monotone delivery that gives you the chills. Wilson manages to showcase a character as both friendly yet menacing at the same time. Natali does a great job of providing camera angles and close ups to really show the claustrophobia that the main characters are feeling as they are racing through the grass. The cinematography is superb, with the grass and colors really popping off the screen. However, no matter how good a film may look, you can’t really polish a turd. I had high hopes for In The Tall Grass and was severely disappointed with the absurd direction Natali took the film. In The Tall Grass would have been much better suited as an episode of the Twilight Zone than this 90-minute mess we received. Go ahead and skip this one and just read the novella instead – it will take just about the same amount of time and one is a far superior product.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5