Based on a novella co-authored by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill, Netflix’s IN THE TALL GRASS (2019) has some good visuals and direction but overall feels overstretched for its premise. It’s gotten a good panning by critics and many viewers, who said the longer it goes on the weaker it gets, but I found the opposite to be true. Overall, it’s a cheap thrill, and I was good with that as a viewer, as I hadn’t expected much more.
The story begins with a brother (Cal) and sister (Becky) driving cross country when they stop near a seemingly abandoned church near a vast field of tall grass. They hear a boy crying for help in the grass, and when they go to help, they find themselves lost as well and unable to get out, as the field appears to be a living, constantly shifting maze. Later, they come across a family that is also lost, as well as Becky’s boyfriend, and together they must try to find a way to escape.
The film plays with some interesting concepts–an ancient stone that appears to house the field’s intelligence, time loops, and more, but the mythology behind the field isn’t really explored, though it’s possibly the most intriguing element. The interpersonal relationships are far less interesting and come to the fore as the story goes on, sometimes dominating at odd times, when the characters should be far more focused on survival against a common enemy. The film feels repetitive and struggling with its necessary runtime. On the plus side, King and Hill complement each other well; you can almost dissect who wrote what characters (I’m curious now to read the novella the film is based on). The grass itself is cool and makes a claustrophobic, malevolent setting. The visuals are great. And the ending, while not super strong, does pay off.
Overall, I found IN THE TALL GRASS a worthwhile watch, not very strong, but strong enough to be enjoyable.