In the Tall Grass


The tall grass can hide almost anything.

(2019) Horror (NetflixPatrick Wilson, Harrison Gilbertson, Will Buie, Jr., Laysla De Olveira, Avery Whitted, Rachel Wilson, Tiffany Helm. Directed by Vincenzo Natali

 

In the endless prairie, the grass can grow higher than, as the song goes, an elephant’s eye. There is something idyllic about tall waving grass on a sweet summer day. The tall grass can hide all manner of things, whether it be children playing hide and seek, couples coupling or something far more sinister.

From Stephen King and his chip-off-the-old-block-of-radioactive-meteorite-that-turns-people-into-killer-mutants son Joe Hill comes hits made-for-Netflix terror opus (which kicked off four straight weeks of original horror movies released each Friday in October). Siblings Cal (Whitted) and his very pregnant sister Becky (De Olveira) pull over to the side of a country road on the way to California (why don’t people ever stick to the interstate in horror movies?) so that she can wrestle with a bout of morning sickness. That’s when they hear a child’s voice calling for help. He can communicate with them, moaning that he’s been lost in the grass for days. Against their better judgment, the two siblings go in – and promptly get lost themselves.

While there they run into Tobin (Buie), the lost kid and eventually his parents the high-strung Ross (P. Wilson) and Natalie (R. Wilson). They also eventually run into Travis (Gilbertson), Becky’s baby daddy whom Cal absolutely loathes and who followed them when they missed a meeting with the prospective adoptive parents of her unborn child. As it turns out, time doesn’t work the same way in the tall grass. And it shifts in physical space as well. Except, as Tobin notes, “it doesn’t move dead things” and soon enough, there are plenty of those about as well.

From simple concepts comes better horror; King has understood this throughout his amazing career and the concept here is fairly simple, although the “rules” of the tall grass tend to get a bit obfuscated the longer the film goes. The first third of the movie however is deliciously creepy and veteran horror director Natali (Cube, Splice) keeps the suspense taut until near the end where things fall apart a bit.

There is some nifty CGI grass effects and less-nifty CGI blood effects and at the center of it all is a stone monolith – isn’t that always the case – that is a MacGuffin that never gets fully explained but then again doesn’t really need it. The film might have benefitted by less connection to the main characters – a sense that this thing has been there a really long time doesn’t really exist, and maybe evidence of pioneers and Native Americans who also found themselves wandering endlessly in the tall grass might have given the film a bit more grounding. However, this is a solid if unspectacular adaptation of the Master’s material and certainly a worthy addition to anyone’s spooky playlist whether at Halloween or just in the mood for a little fear fare.

REASONS TO SEE: Reasonably suspenseful throughout. Some pretty cool CGI grass effects.
REASONS TO AVOID: Loses steam about half way through the movie.
FAMILY VALUES: There is a fair amount of profanity, disturbing images, situations of terror and some brief sexual violence.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: While Patrick and Rachel Wilson, who play husband and wife in the film, have the same last name although they are not related.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Netflix
CRITICAL MASS: As of 12/18/19: Rotten Tomatoes: 38% positive reviews: Metacritic: 46/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Children of the Corn
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT:
Rabid (2019)

New Releases for the Week of March 14, 2014


Need for SpeedNEED FOR SPEED

(DreamWorks) Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper, Rami Malek, Michael Keaton, Dakota Johnson, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, Harrison Gilbertson. Directed by Scott Waugh

A blue collar mechanic, struggling to save his garage from going under, is framed on an illegal cross country race by an arrogant ex-NASCAR driver for manslaughter and is sent to prison. On being release, he yearns for revenge and knows the best way to get it is to beat his antagonist in an underground street race. However, with a bounty out on his car and the law chasing him, it will be an uphill task. Based on the bestselling racing videogame.

See the trailer, clips, interviews, featurettes, videos and promos here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard, 3D (opens Thursday)

Genre: Action

Rating: PG-13 (for scenes of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language)

The Single Mom’s Club

(Lionsgate) Tyler Perry, Nia Long, Amy Smart, Terry Crews. A group of single moms struggling to survive and raise their kids on their own get together and form a support group. Their bonds of sisterhood help them grow and change in surprising ways.

See the trailer, interviews and a video here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard (opens Thursday)

Genre: Dramedy

Rating: PG-13 (for some sexual material and thematic elements)

Veronica Mars

(Warner Brothers) Kristen Bell, Krysten Ritter, James Franco, Jamie Lee Curtis. Now graduated from law school, the titular character has left her amateur sleuthing of her high school years (and TV show) behind, looking to move forward with a career at a prestigious law firm. But somehow, the past keeps calling her back when her ex-boyfriend from high school comes under suspicion for murder. It looks like an open and shut case and just about everybody believes he’s guilty – but with Veronica on the case, you know the real culprit will soon take his place behind bars.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-roll video here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Mystery

Rating: PG-13 (for sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language)