In the Tall Grass (2019) – movie review

In the Tall Grass. Image credit: Courtesy of

Stephen King has never been more popular, judging from how many of his books get adapted for the screen every year. Some of them are remakes of older adaptations, some others have never been presented in visual form: the latter is the case of In the Tall Grass, directed by Vincenzo Natali who, also, adapted the source material into the screenplay.

I know I’m terribly late with this review, as the movie is available worldwide on Netflix since October 4th, but this gave me the opportunity to have a more informed and balanced approach to In the Tall Grass. Apparently, this is a very divisive picture: some audience members love, some hate it; some critics praised it, some criticised it.

I haven’t read the 2012 novel, but in the movie, we follow siblings Becky and Cal who’re driving to Dallas when they stop and hear the cries of a young boy lost within a field of tall grass: obviously, they venture in to rescue him, only to become ensnared themselves by a sinister force that quickly disorients and separates them. Together with other characters, the two siblings find themselves trapped in a field where time and space have different rules from the outside world, and they must find a way to escape.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 

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Thanks to my buddy Jimmy, I approached In the Tall Grass as though I was watching an extended Twilight Zone episode: this helped my viewing experience quite a lot, as I really enjoyed the film. Besides my personal experience with it, I think In the Tall Grass has a few flaws – which we’ll discuss later – but also a lot of quality elements to it.

The concept itself is very cool (thanks Stephen King!) and provides the film with the opportunity to feature a lot of twists and turns. Aside from that, In the Tall Grass manages to maintain quite a moody and mysterious atmosphere, without ever becoming too dour and hopeless. I read complaints about how dark the movie was – literally – to the point some viewers couldn’t make out what was going on: I, actually, think the lighting in the night sequences is one of the most successful aspects of this film, since it feels realistic and genuine, without losing the dreamlike (or nightmarish) vibe it was going for.

Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice) also added a lot to the presentation of In the Tall Grass, as the film managed to convey a constantly-engaging visual flair with very little: there aren’t many locations nor there is a sizable variety in the setting, but the way this movie is shot keeps it entertaining and interesting. Natali added some very cool details as well that tease how dangerous the titular tall grass is, without the need to overexplain or make everything blatant and obvious. Although the sombre and unsettling atmosphere is what I loved the most about In the Tall Grass, there is some surprising gore and violence sprinkled throughout: this raised the stakes and, in my opinion, made the film more impactful.

Even though the visuals are quite gorgeous throughout, the use of CGI-made montage sequences towards the second half of the movie feels very distracting and cheap – the director clearly has a thing for dated CGI, as some of the effects in Splice were dreadful as well. In terms of lighting, as much as I loved the night time sequences, most of the events that take place in daytime feel overexposed and, therefore, very much TV-like.

Yet, the characters weren’t very interesting to me, since they are given very surface-level development and their interaction feels extremely formulaic and disinteresting. The acting, on the other hand, is quite solid: Patrick Wilson sneaks in another memorable performance and, much to my surprise, the kid (played by Will Buie Jr.) was truly convincing throughout.

Speaking of interaction, the dialogue in the movie was really bad for me: there were some instances – for example, a confrontation between Cal and Becky’s ex-boyfriend – where you could easily tell the dialogue was scripted because no real human being would speak the way characters did in this film.

Despite my complaints with In the Tall Grass, I think the movie works more than it doesn’t: it’s engaging and tense throughout, it’s well-shot and well-acted for the most part, it features some nice reveals throughout the runtime. Poor character development, bad dialogue and a few technical issues bring it down according to my rating system, but I would definitely suggest you give it a chance if you haven’t already!

In the Tall Grass                                6/10

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