Don’t go in…
In The Tall Grass is a good little creep fest that plays on the minimalist nature of the setup but it could have used a little trimming in order to really work as well as hoped.
When siblings Becky and Cal hear the cries of a young boy lost within a field of tall grass, they venture in to rescue him, only to become ensnared themselves by a sinister force that quickly disorients and separates them. Cut off from the world and unable to escape the field’s tightening grip, they soon discover that the only thing worse than getting lost is being found, in the film based on the novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill.
It’s a simple set up to be sure and that’s not a bad thing as less can very often be more and here with Writer/Director Vincenzo Natali’s In The Tall Grass certainly has some creepy moments but it’s also a little convoluted at times and could have used some trimming to help feel a little snappier and get to genuinely scary rather than just effectively creepy.
The setting of the Tall Grass is actually really brilliant and Natali has more than enough tools in his bag to make sure that we immediately get roped into the closed off nature of the setting from minute one. The production design and photography of it all certainly does set a mood that really goes a long way into getting invested in the situation.
While we’ll grant that the pacing of the script is far from what you’d call ‘staccato’ as it gets a little too wrapped up in the mystery before us and certainly isn’t the movie you’ll want to drift away to sleep on the couch while watching. Its layers of weird wrapped up in itself and it works while still maintaining the sensibility of the original novella writers in Stephen King and Joe Hill. Certainly, it gets deliciously nasty in the third act to make up for some of the over-developed mysterious mumbo jumbo to get us there with all these subjects in the grass and it makes wish we had a little more one on one with the characters in this labyrinth rather than the inevitable horror movie group dynamic so that they can overcome the odds.
The two young leads in Layla De Olivera and Avery Whitted are decent enough as our leads but just don’t have the chops to get the material to the finish line. Thank goodness for the consistently underrated Patrick Wilson as our unwitting bad guy who succumbs to the evil of the mysterious object in the tall grass as he effectively chews the scenery and puts in some good work finding his inner crazy in all of this while young Will Buie Jr. managed to be a little creepy let still kind of loveable and sympathetic all at the same time.
When it all comes down to it, In The Tall Grass while beautifully simple in nature, actually needed to be a little simpler in order to truly be something effectively scary. The plot and narrative in the first two acts get a little unnecessarily twisty at times but that ultimately doesn’t take away from the beautifully creepy trappings of the tall grass. It’ll make your skin crawl to be sure but needed a little more straight ahead perspective and young actors who carry the emotional load of it all to be genuinely frightening.