In the Tall Grass is in Over its Head

Based on a Stephen King novella, Canadian filmmaker Vincenzo Natali has produced a Netflix film akin to the many King-on-TV adaptations in the 90’s and early aughts. With thin mythology and thick-headed characters, it’s classic King, the sort of horror dependent on vague Native American magic and alien mysteries. Most of the time horror is more effective when mysterious. It’s scarier not knowing the what, where from, and how. Not so in Natali’s infrequently compelling yarn, where a group of disparate travelers have wandered into one ominous, tall maze of grass that’s basically a rural Bermuda Triangle. Smart phone signals are lost and time is ever-shifting, along with the maze itself, leading to all manner of strange happenings. A big, eerie rock is reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Patrick Wilson’s suspiciously cheery real estate agent reminds one of The Shining‘s Jack Torrance when everything goes to hell. Beautiful sun-time photography overlooking the land, ducking and diving between blades of grass, eventually gives way to flat night-time shooting and chintzy CGI. There’s a better movie somewhere on the cutting room floor, one that spends more time getting to know these strangers and developing a coherent mythology around the grass. As it is, it’s nice to see Patrick Wilson getting paid for his creepy-squeaky-clean aura.

Grade: C

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