Newsflash: being stuck in a field of tall grass isn’t very enjoyable. A movie about it isn’t either.
Netflix recently took a dip into the seemingly endless pool of Steven King content and emerged with “In the Tall Grass.” The original movie is an adaptation of the 2012 novella of the same name, and it somehow manages to make an incredibly simple concept necessitate a Google search to understand the ending.
The movie begins with a pair of siblings on a road trip across the country. They pull over next to a very haunted-looking abandoned church because the pregnant Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) experiences a bout of nausea. The pair hears cries of help from a child inside a field of grass and go in to rescue him.
Once the siblings enter the grass, they lose track of each other and the child, Tobin (Will Buie Jr.). The three call out to each other for hours, but their voices seem to travel around the grass as soon as they start heading in the right direction.
An increasingly desperate Becky then runs into Tobin’s father, Ross Humboldt (Patrick Wilson), and he offers to show her the way out of the maze. She was initially wary but eventually agrees. From there, things can only be described as weird.
The movie somehow manages to fit in time travel, religious references, Native American tradition and a giant all-powerful rock while still feeling slow. By the end, it’s just a jumbled mess of blood and grass, and it leaves you with both a lingering discomfort and sense of confusion.
Beyond the chaotic primary plot that I can’t even begin to explain, there’s also an additional storyline about Becky and her baby. The father isn’t in the picture, but he somehow tracks down the siblings’ car after they go missing. This kicks up a parental drama that seems wholly unimportant seeing as there’s a cast of characters stuck in a supernatural field of grass.
Throughout the course of this baby-daddy drama, the two siblings have some of the weirdest chemistry possible. Between reminders that they are related, Becky and her brother Cal (Avery Whitted) almost seem like they’re dating, and Cal is jealous of Becky’s ex. The acting is just not entirely unconvincing.
On the bright side, the acting by Patrick Wilson as Ross Humbolt is great. His character for most of the movie is simply a stereotypical real estate agent, but he does it so well. He’s cheesy and smooth talking in the way that any salesman should be, and it leaves him with an almost eerie energy in the midst of the plot.
Overall, “In the Tall Grass” has some moments that shine, but it’s just slightly too well done to come across as comedic. It’s a mess and proof that just because Steven King wrote something doesn’t mean it's good.