“IN THE TALL GRASS” is horror thriller written and directed by Vincenzo Natali based on a novella from Stephen King and Joe Hill. The cast is headlined by Patrick Wilson, with Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted, Harrison Gilbertson, and Will Buie Jr. filling out the characters. This story is set in the grass plains of Kansas when a brother and sister on a road trip to San Diego make a routine pit-stop. After hearing what sounds like a boy calling for their help from inside the endless grass, they attempt to help him. But when they enter the grass fields it doesn’t take long for things not to feel right as they can’t find their way out.
It’s officially Halloween season so a Stephen King adaptation should always cure that hunger for horror. “In the Tall Grass” is a King property I’m unfamiliar with but after watching the trailer I was intrigued. The premise was interesting and the setting for the plot was a unique one. I think Patrick Wilson is an underrated actor, so I felt there was some genuine potential here for a winner. After watching I would say this one didn’t quite result in a great movie, but it was far from a bad one. The story-line gets going relatively quickly and with it comes the mystery and tension. Seeing these characters lost inside of this massive field of grass was interesting. As they searched for answers to what was happening I did as well, and it created a charming level of engagement.
The performances were all nicely-crafted for the needs of the roles. Patrick Wilson is the headlining name, but it was truly an ensemble of performances that created a group of characters you can connect with an invest in. There is a variety of dynamics between the characters that does provide layering to the story and it results in some compelling drama while the darkly twisted main plot develops. There was a nice balance between character development and what was actually happening in this grass field, and early on it keeps a nice pace. Time and place are twisted around in this plot and there is some suspension-of-disbelief needed to overlook the plot holes. Things don’t always make sense while the story evolves and while it was a hindrance, it wasn’t a complete deal breaker.
This movie creates a creepy atmosphere and if it’s taken at face-value, there is some enjoyment to be had here. Just don’t ask too many questions. I think sitting back and taking this movie in as simple fun is the best option. It isn’t overly layered, and the plot could have been explained a little more even. Yet it was still able to pull off being an engaging horror/thriller that turns a simple field of grass into a single location of horror. Plus, the cast all deliver solid performances to make the most out of the characters. So despite some thin plot structuring there are still enough appealing elements to grab on to. Wilson was charismatic and I love when he takes on a persona outside the norm for him. He had a charm that worked perfect for creating a duality to his role. Gilbertson was able to pump a ton of energy into his role to make the most out of an admittedly generic character-type. I would say the same for Oliveira and Whitted in their roles as brother and sister. Their set-up was routine, but they certainly made the characters their own.
Like I mentioned, this movie was able to create a foreboding tension that I enjoyed. The mystery of what was happening did pique my curiosity and when it evolved it was interesting. The camerawork captured the depth of the vast grass covered plains effectively. The visual styling brought the grass to life through a variety of camera techniques and while the studio polish was present at times, there was still enough appealing imagery to build a great mood for a horror movie. With a variety of angles and lighting the single location of a grass field was able to keep that feeling of being fresh and interesting. There was a level of unpredictability that I enjoyed as well and with nicely-crafted visuals it was suspenseful and ominous when needed have me on edge.
I think the main issue with this one was the pace. The length was fine, but the minutes didn’t feel utilized. I think more time could have been spent developing what was happening in this field from a supernatural aspect. Instead it spent a good amount of time trying to create scary moments. I think this would have made the story less nonsensical and much more interesting. The script would lay the groundwork for things that would bring up questions, that at times didn’t feel answered. Which doesn’t make this a bad movie, just not as thought-provoking of one as it could have been. I think the relationships between the characters, which was a nice touch early on, ended up taking time from the main plot of this sinister field of tall grass. But as it was, I enjoyed it more than enough. It was an entertaining night at home with the lights off, a blank on the couch, and a horror movie and sometimes that’s all you need.