“In the Tall Grass” confuses viewers with patchy plot


Sophie Hunter, Entertainment Assistant

Directed by Vincenzo Natali, the Netflix original movie In the Tall Grass is one of the latest in the psychological thriller genre. Released Oct. 4, this film arrived just in time for the annual surge of Halloween and horror movies.

The film follows the storyline of the popular novella with the same name by Stephen King. The movie explores the idea of an endless tall field in Kansas that runs on an independent time and space loop. Cries for help lure people in, but as soon as they enter, they can never leave.

In the middle of the field is a large rock, which is essentially the “brain” of the field. If someone touches the rock, it tells them everything about the grass and gives them power. The rock teaches that person to talk to the grass since the grass knows where everything in the field is. The knowledge and power of the rock corrupt some people, while others use it to help the innocents out of the field.

The movie also plays with the idea of life and death, as someone could die and then be wandering the fields the next day. In this movie, death is never final. Anything dealing with space and time in the grass is fair game. A few days in the grass could be months to the outside world.

Even though the infinite grass adds suspense, its limited visibility becomes disorientating. Since the camera angles and setting do not allow for details to be revealed without the characters themselves knowing of them, there is no dramatic irony. Still, the cinematography achieved here is impressive, considering that all the film producers had to work with was one setting of a never-ending field of tall grass. Some of the best shots are wide-angle aerial shots of the grass, close-ups of eyes, and CGI that gives the sense of the grass being alive. Unfortunately, though, with limited options, the scenes quickly seem gimmicky and repetitive. As Noel Murray of the Los Angeles Times said, “In the Tall Grass runs too long and repeats itself too much to be as gripping as its source material. Turns out, there’s a limit to how scary weeds can be.”

With this repetition, the movie feels sloppy and boring at points. One major flaw with this film is that any rule introduced in the plot can be manipulated at any time. This makes it extremely difficult to follow. Some of the changes to the rules of the grass are subtle. If the viewer doesn’t pick them up immediately, it is easy to fall behind.

One of the more frustrating elements of the film is that as the characters turn on each other, they are simultaneously trying to work out trivial sibling relationship problems. The bickering doesn’t  add to the story other than wasting time and setting the characters back. Since the grass tries to disorient people, almost all of the 90 minutes of the movie involve the characters aimlessly wandering and calling each other’s names — as if doing so would make a difference. With a 40% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.5/10 from IMDb, it is safe to say that the movie doesn’t meet the high expectations of its audience.

On top of everything, the acting is, at best, subpar. The actors and their characters feel  replaceable and seem as though they are only reading off a script, not embodying a role. It feels  difficult to get attached to the characters and to know who to root for or against. The underwritten roles of the characters don’t hold any substance in the film.

While this movie is good enough to hold interest for 90 minutes, it isn’t memorable.  The premise of the movie itself is more interesting than the actual film. For these reasons, In the Tall Grass deserves a 5/10.