Stephen King. His name makes you think of big, fat horror novels. But some of the best King films come from his shorter stories. Stand By Me. The Shawshank Redemption. I recently attended Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, where I saw the newest King adaptation, In the Tall Grass, based on a story the master of horror wrote with his son, Joe Hill.
As the film begins, two siblings are traveling cross country. While they’re parked on the side of the road, they hear a young boy calling for help from the thicket of tall grass next to the highway. Should they head into the underbrush and render assistance? Or not? This is a Stephen King film, so you already know the answers to those questions. I can’t help but wonder: Do people in horror movies ever watch horror movies?
When it comes to these films, I’m not a nitpicker. Horror is a genre where you just have to go with the flow. Realism is not my number one concern. But, it’s hard to watch a movie where a character wades into this mysterious thicket and realizes he left his cell phone, eye glasses, water and everything else he might need in his car. This fella isn’t gonna last long making decisions like that in a Stephen King film.
The film does deliver some scares and a creepy atmosphere. Patrick Wilson from The Conjuring films gives a fun performance as a realtor who slowly comes unhinged. But, this story honestly works best on the written page where your imagination can fill in the details. Basically, you need the engineer who built the Golden Gate Bridge to suspend your disbelief during this movie.
In the Tall Grass premieres on Netflix on Friday, October 4th. If you’re a huge Stephen King fan, you’re going to check it out and decide for yourself. I give it 2 out of 5 popcorn buckets. I’m Scott Phillips, and that’s the Screen Scene