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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Review: In The Tall Grass

Director: Vicenzo Natali
Screenplay: Vicenzo Natali
Year: 2019

Movies based on the works of the writer Stephen King have seen a rebirth in the last few years. This year alone “Pet Sematary”, “It: Chapter 2”, and “In The Tall Grass” have been released and “Doctor Sleep” has already been announced for later this year. The popular streaming company Netflix has been one of the interested in adapting works of the author that have not been adapted before, as with “Gerald’s Game”, “1922”, and now “In The Tall Grass”.

“In the Tall Grass” presents Becky, a pregnant young woman, and her brother Cal while they travel along a long road parallel to grass fields. Both of them stop next to the fields and Becky starts hearing a boy calling for help from inside the grass. They go to look for him and once in, they realize this is no ordinary grass field and that supernatural and dangerous things take place there.

Director and screenwriter Vicenzo Natali (“Cube”), based on the self-titled novella from Stephen King and Joe Hill, takes the convoluted story and presents it with an artistic tone that is enviable. The cinematography is one of the principal atractives of this movie, from an interesting use of vivid colors to flashy camera and editing tricks to create aesthetically striking movies. 

As mentioned, this movie is based on a work from Stephen King and his son Joe Hill, and with King involved in the story, it is expected that it be strange and full of metaphysical stuff. Natali honors this and keeps his script in pair with what is expected from King. There comes a moment in the story where space and time stop working as we are used to, and twists are associated with metaphysical events hard to explain for a human.

Once in the field and with little chances of getting out of it, the drama among the characters starts gaining significance. The relationship between Becky and his overprotective brother Cal is excellently portrayed on screen by Laysla de Oliveira (“Nikita”) and Avery Whitted (“The Vanishing of Sidney Hall”), later joined by the also excellent Tobin (Will Buie Jr.;”Bunk’d”), his father Ross (Patrick Wilson; “Insidious”, “The Conjuring”), and Travis (Harrison Gilbertson; “Upgrade”). We understand much of the gravity of the situation and the relationships between the character from dialogues and acting, a weight they carry with ease.

While most of the movie is captivating because of its aesthetics as well as its plot, the ending is disappointing. Once the third act is reached it seems like it’s going to take a turn towards the strange and dark but ends up fleeing from towards a feel-good lackluster ending that overshadows the suspense built through the story. Without knowing the ending in the novella, which I have not read< this is a very Stephen King ending, something brought up as a joke on “It: Chapter 2”. 

“In The Tall Grass” is a smart movie, with a convoluted story based on redemption and faith, which are recurring themes in the countless works of King. Natali’s talent as director es exposed in a creation that is beautiful as well as macabre and eerie. Only the ending takes away from it, but this doesn’t prevent it from being a very good horror movie that is worth watching and enjoying.

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