In the Tall Grass is yet another Stephen King adaptation. It feels like he has 1 million books and all of them have been made into movies at this point. Some are masterpieces while others are very forgettable, so which one of these camps does In the Tall Grass fall into?
Personally, I will say neither. There are things to like about the movie though it does, as the title of this review implies, take a few too many turns. You could probably remove about 10 minutes of the movie and make a much better movie. My job is to hit on the things that will let you know if it’s worth your time though.
In the Tall Grass has an interesting premise that seems simple enough. You get caught up in the mystery for a while but once the answers begin to be realized the story takes a bit too long to conclude. The end will leave you with something interesting to debate with friends or family though.
Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) and Cal DeMuth (Avery Whitted) are traveling through Kansas when a pregnant Becky has to stop to throw up. After she does she hears the voice of a young boy calling for help from a field. Her brother decides to go into the field to find the kid and she ends up following him. They quickly realize something isn’t right as they get separated and then are unable to get back to each other.
From there things get weird when other people start showing up and some of them are acting very weird. The first such character is young Tobin Humbolt, played by Will Buie, Jr. (Bunk’d). Tobin is way too comfortable in this field and looks like he’s been here for a long time. The rest of the movie revolves around our characters trying to find their way out of the grass and not knowing who to trust or what powers are keeping them there.
There is a religious theme here as well. I’d stop short of calling it some sort of statement but it serves to explain why these people are stuck in this field.
First of all, the acting is great. While Laysla and Avery are new to me, I was very familiar with Will Buie, Jr. from Bunk’d and of course Patrick Wilson of the Conjuring universe. Wilson plays Tobin’s father Ross Humbolt and is another character who we aren’t sure we can trust when we meet him.
Both characters do a great job playing the dangerously calm versions of themselves, the lost and scared versions of themselves, as well as the pre-field versions. I was particularly impressed with Buie since I’ve only ever seen him on a Disney show where he plays a somewhat air-headed character. It seems Disney seems to give those roles to some of their better actors (Shia Labeuf, Calum Worthy) so I’ll have to keep an eye on this kid going forward.
Secondly, the mystery aspect is great. When the characters first get lost it’s interesting to watch them try to figure out what is going on. They deploy different tricks to try to find their way out and I appreciated that they were trying things that made sense. When they figure out what’s happening, it’s still fun to figure out how they’re going to beat the grass and escape.
In a movie that is literally about meandering, I’m going to complain that it meanders a little too much. While it surprisingly doesn’t get old that our characters are surrounded by this tall grass for most of the movie, they do drag out the conclusion some. They get close to an answer, then lose it. They try to help each other out but things get messed up in one way or another.
There is a section of the film that centers around Becky and her baby that I don’t think really adds much to the movie either. At the very least there was probably a better way for this scene to have been delivered, no pun intended. If you know the scene in question and read the book then perhaps it was staying true to the source material but I personally think they could have made a tweak that would have landed a hard enough blow without the disgust.
This was another movie I watched with the family. While I did not enjoy the dragged out conclusion, I did enjoy trying to solve the mystery aspect and I thought In the Tall Grass had a very interesting ending.
I did debate this one with family and will likely read a few articles about it as well because we didn’t come to a definitive answer. Nothing to write home about but a solid movie night movie if you’re struggling to find something, which was the case when we picked it.