7. A film based on a book: In the Tall Grass (2019)
List Progress: 3/12
Say what you will about Stephen King, but the man knows how to brand a specific style. When characters in the 2019 film In the Tall Grass started loudly reciting dirty limericks to try and find each other through the titular tall grass, it was such a specific King-ism that both my partner and I were rolling our eyes. This film is based off of the 2009 novella of the same name by King and his son Joe Hill, and once you can see past the cheesiness, it is a pretty solid bit of horror.
I have not read the novella of In the Tall Grass, but going by the summary online, it seems like the movie had to stretch and add quite a bit to make the story reach feature-length. The core premise is that pregnant young woman Becky and her brother Calvin pause in the middle of a cross-country road trip and are lured into a grassy field by the sound of a young boy calling for help. The grass reaches far above both their heads, and seems to shift and distort once people are inside it, making escape back to the road impossible. When they do not arrive at their destination, Becky’s ex-boyfriend Travis comes looking for them and gets caught up in the grass as well, along with the siblings and the little boy and his family. It’s a simple, sleek set-up for horror, working off of the fears of being confused, lost and smothered by nature.
Where the movie loses its footing is when it tries to explain things a little too neatly and tries to wrap up the plot with a happy ending and a bit of unnecessarily-conservative moralizing about parenthood and family. The film is also a bit haphazard with establishing things early that will come into play in the conclusion, which feels like Horror 101. But the scary moments and strong imagery are worth the time spent. In terms of Netflix Stephen King adaptations, it falls short of Gerald’s Game and 1922 (both of which were very good), but is still a solid bit of scare.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, for a pulpy horror.