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VIFF 2019: IN THE TALL GRASS Exceeds Expectation [Review]

By Marina Antunes [10.04.19]


It's fair to say that by now everyone knows of Stephen King even if they've never read one of his books or stories or seen anything that was adapted from one of his works. The other thing that most people know about a King as a storyteller is that his work, when it delves into fantasy or horror, tends to be pretty weird.


There are, of course, exceptions. King is, after all, a great observer of the human condition and whether it's a straight-up drama or if it features a tinge of the supernatural, he always taps into some deep-rooted truth about what it means to be human and alive, and such is the case with In the Tall Grass which is based on a novella that King wrote with his son and fellow author Joe Hill.


Adapted for the screen by Canadian master Vincenzo Natali, the movie tells the story of a pair of siblings on their way to Florida. Becky is pregnant and with no father in the picture, she's planning on giving up the baby. Her brother Carl is simply doing what a good brother would do: making sure she gets to her destination safely.


During an unscheduled pit stop, the pair hear a young boy calling out for help from a vast field of tall grass. They decide to investigate only to find themselves lost in both space and time with apparently no way to save themselves, said kid, or the other people trapped with them.



It quickly becomes apparent that trying to figure out what is happening to the characters and why, is pointless. There are no answers provided as to why this is happening to these particular people (though for one this is a tale of redemption) or whether they're the only ones this has ever happened to. For those that need answers, In the Tall Grass is going to be a frustrating watch but if you're willing to give into this world and the rules that govern it, you're going to have a blast.


And let's be clear, Natali makes it really easy to be drawn into the story. In the Tall Grass is firing on all cylinders to create a spooky, immersive experience. The production, music, and art design are impressive especially considering how little variation there is in the location, cinematographer Craig Wrobleski finds ways to keep the field interesting, the visual effects work perfectly to accentuate the building terror, and then the entire thing is effectively punctuated by Mark Korven's score.


In the Tall Grass is strange in the way many a Stephen King tale is strange, but it's also a really well made and incredibly effective horror movie.


In the Tall Grass is now available on Netflix.



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