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In the Tall Grass (2019)

After hearing a young boy's cry for help, a sister and brother venture into a vast field of tall grass in Kansas but soon discover there may be no way out...and that something evil lurks within.


In the Tall Grass is a neat idea - but then it would be, being based on the writing of Stephen King and Joe Hill. Without a bunch of spoilers I can't say too much about the central premise, but it is a little cliche, but done differently enough. It hinges well on being a character piece, for which I would point the finger at King's part in the original novella.

Writer and director, Vincenzo Natali (Cube) does a good job of the adaptation too. It's a sound screenplay. The direction is solid - nothing groundbreaking - but solid. With the premise of the film being a group of people in a field, a great deal levers on the performances.

Weight comes from Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring) who as always throws himself into the role. He's not the star, but does leave more of an impression than the rest of the cast, who are much younger. There's some clever work afoot with the rest of the players, with the role of protagonist jumping between heads. From Laysla De Oliveira (Guest of Honour) to Avery Whitted (The Vanishing of Sidney Hall) to Harrison Gilbertson (Picnic at Hanging Rock), the torch is passed. They all do a pretty good job, and the film works for the subversion it gives. What I will grant, is that the three of them do a far better job than you would expect with such little experience between them. Then there is Will Buie Jr. (Gifted) clocking in a stunningly good performance for someone so very young.

The feel of the film fits firmly into what you would expect from a King/Hill adaptation. It is scary in the way it wants to be. There is always a familiarity, warm and hugging, when watching work based on King - particularly recently. And this is no different. The characters are well built, the pace is slow, and the payoff is usually grand. In this case, the payoff is okay. Rather than have the glorious showdown we would hope for the film peters out a little, but not appallingly. For a Netflix original it is pretty good. I would recommend Gerald's Game over this, but this is a fairly close second.

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