In the Tall Grass
in the tall grass | vincenzo natali | laysla de oliveira | avery whitted | patrick wilson | drama | thriller | canada | will buie jr. | harrison gilbertson | tiffany helm | rachel wilson | based on | novel | stephen king | joe hill
Film: In the Tall Grass
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Writer: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted and Patrick Wilson
This was a film that kind of came out of nowhere. I did a news article on it for a site that I write for and I made the plan of seeing this. It really helped as well that a horror movie challenge I’m doing so that solidified the plan. I’m also a massive Stephen King fan, so seeing that he co-wrote the novella with his son Joe Hill, which also caught my eye. The synopsis here is after hearing a young boy’s cry for help, a sister and brother venture into a vast field of tall grass in Kansas, but soon discover there may be no way out…and that something evil lurks within.
We start this off with a couple in a car. Becky DeMuth (Laysla De Oliveira) and she’s pregnant. The driver is her brother Cal (Avery Whitted). She gets nauseous watching him eat a burger and has him pull over. She throws up. Behind them is a church and they’re next to a field of tall grass. As they’re deciding what to do, Becky hears a boy calling for help. His mother tries to get him to stop, but he doesn’t listen. The siblings then go into the tall grass to find him.
It really takes a turn though as the boy’s voice keeps changing position. Cal tells him to stop moving and the boy tells him that he’s not. The siblings also get separated from each other. Cal does find the boy, Tobin Humbolt (Will Buie Jr.). He looks like he’s been in here a while and is dirty. Tobin tells him that he’ll help him find his sister, but that she’s going to die soon.
Also in this grass are Tobin’s parents, Ross (Patrick Wilson) and Natalie (Rachel Wilson). Becky runs into Ross and the two of them go about finding their way. Things aren’t as they seem and with Becky’s condition doesn’t help. The only things that they know are that when something dies, they don’t move and that there’s this weird rock in a clearing. Travis McKean (Harrison Gilberston) comes looking for Becky and gets caught in this same nightmare as well. Is there a way out of here and what is going on in the tall grass?
As I started out to saying in this, I’m a big fan of King and I’m starting to get more in Hill. I think this has a really interesting concept. I grew up in the country for a good portion of my life and I’ll admit, cornfields are scary. This tall grass is similar to that in it is taller than the characters and is disorienting when they get inside of it. Now clearly the cornfields I’ve been in, I can just leave. Making this supernatural is something that is quite creepy if I’m honest.
Going from this supernatural aspect, this film features time travel/time loop/alternative dimensions, which is something else I’m a big fan of. I definitely am a firm believer that time is a flat circle and that we only think of it how we do is that it is the only way we can comprehend. We get this interesting thing where the film shows us Becky and Cal arriving, we see their story playing out, but then we get to see Travis as he shows up as well as the Humboldt family. The ‘order’ of events really had me sucked me. I’m so interested in this concept. If the movie wanted to explain a bit more, I could be down for that. I’m also fine with it as no one really seems to know aside from this giant rock is the reason so I can see not explaining it more with something that’s cheesy.
There are some deeper issues that are explored here as well, which if you know me is something I really like. Becky is pregnant and Travis is the father. We learn more about their strained relationship which I did enjoy. Cal at first seems like a good guy, but we slowly get the reveal of his character. Ross is much in the same way and I really like the madness he descends into. There’s a slight issue of doing bad things and also some incestuous feelings.
From there I’ll move to the pacing. My overall feel is that it’s good. I do think that is runs a tad long. With some of the things we keep seeing, trimming that to show us a bit more of the nightmarish things would have worked better for me. I do think that it builds tension as the panic sets in for these people. I also think that the editing is good in introducing us to the characters and transitioning the stories to be interwoven together. I did also really like the ending and how dark it really decided to go.
That will then take me to the acting. I thought that Oliveira was fine as the main lead. What is interesting about this character is the growth that she is going through. We know that she is pregnant, which does raise the stakes there. The more that is revealed about her and this trip, we do get to see her grow into the person we need at the end. Much in the different way, Whitted is good as his character goes dark the more we learn about him. I thought that was also a fine performance. Wilson though is great. There really is something off about him from the beginning and I love the descent into madness he has. Gilbertson was also pretty solid and much like Becky, I like the growth of his character and decision he has to make. Buie and the rest of the cast were fine for what was needed as well.
I’ll shift this to the effects of the movie. I will start on the negative side as there were a couple spots of bad CGI. Thinking about it on the whole, there’s not a lot so that is positive. There were just a couple things that happen where it took me out of it. The practical effects we get though are great and the location used is so creepy. This setting in the tall grass is so disorienting and creepy. The film is also shot very well, which definitely helps.
Now with that said, I actually really enjoyed this movie. I thought there are some really interesting concepts here with the alternative dimensions and time loops that tick boxes for me. Going even farther than that though, we get the darkness of humanity as characters reveal their true selves. I thought that the acting really helps to bring that to life. I do think that the pacing and editing were solid, it was just a bit too long for some of the things we focused on. There were a couple of moments of bad CGI, but the effects on the whole are good. The soundtrack really didn’t stand out to me, but it also fit for what was needed. I do think that this is a really good movie and I’ll definitely need to check out this novella.
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10