‘In the Tall Grass’ comes up short

Netflix’s latest shot at a Stephen King adaptation, In the Tall Grass, asks the daunting question: Can grass be scary?

Sadly, it would seem the answer is ‘no’.

Based on a two-part novella written by King and his son Joe Hill, the film follows three groups of people who all end up stopping outside a seemingly abandoned church in the middle of nowhere.

For one reason or another, they all end up entering and then getting lost in a seemingly endless field of – you guessed it – tall grass.

And that’s it, that’s the entire premise of the movie. I mean obviously there are some supernatural twists (this is a King story after all) but the basic plot of the movie is just people lost in a field.

If that sounds really silly, it’s because it is. The original novella was pretty short, being published in two parts in Esquire magazine in 2012 and I think the film’s biggest stumbling block was trying to stretch it into a full-length movie.

As a half-hour short film, this would probably have worked pretty well but in its attempt to reach movie length, it ultimately stretches its source to breaking point.

Which is a shame because there is a lot to love, especially in the first half.

Despite its dumb premise, director Vincenzo Natali uses a great combination of music, cinematography and pacing to create a highly claustrophobic atmosphere. For a while, you feel almost as trapped as the main characters as the grass forms an impenetrable wall of green that blocks out the sky.

But as the film drags on, the grass loses its terror and you begin to notice how flat the characters are and just how flimsy the plot is.


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