In The Tall Grass: A Review


Natalie looks into the tall grass after her son Tobin runs after their dog. The background is very eerie, setting up the feel for the movie to be mysterious and frightening. (Netflix)

Lily Eberly, AME Editor

The Netflix original In The Tall Grass —a movie based on the short story by Stephen King and Joe Hill — is a trippy thriller about two families disappearing in tall grass, trying to find their way out.

Netflix released the movie on October 4th this year, and so far, the reviews aren’t great. Rotten Tomatoes gave In The Tall Grass a 37%, however Netflix gave it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Out of five grass blades, this movie gets a 3.8.

The movie was better than expected. The beginning, more specifically the acting and reasoning, set the bar low, but as the movie progressed it became more interesting. It gave off “Children of the Corn” vibes, as the setting looked like Nebraska and the grass could be reminded as the tall corn field.

It is a story about a little boy named Tobin who called to Becky and her brother Cal, as they had stopped on the side of the road during a trip to San Diego, from within the grass to help him. Tobin had previously gotten lost in the grass when he chased his dog Freddy into it; following behind was his mother Natalie and his father Ross. 

Travis, Becky, and Cal listen to Ross while huddled together. Though Cal and Travis don’t favorite each other in the least, they are sure to protect Becky throughout the movie. (Netflix)

Common sense didn’t play a role, making it very difficult to accept the decision of the siblings to go in the grass, — not calling the police beforehand — split up, and eventually get lost.

Later on, when it seems that two months have gone by, Becky’s ex-boyfriend Travis goes searching for her when she never reached her destination and ends up in the grass.

The characters were alright in the sense that their personalities were different from one another. Becky and Cal were calm and helpful to one another, especially since Becky was pregnant; Travis was willing to fight whatever got in the way; Tobin was oddly creepy when first introduced, however his characterization developed to be the boy everyone wanted to protect; Ross was downright creepy, as he worshipped this giant rock in the middle of the grass and knew its secrets; and Natalie wasn’t present for most of the movie, but she was intelligent.

The story itself was actually very unsettling and creepy, but it made for a good thriller. Though it was illogical, the main idea was that the grass confused timelines for the characters. For example: Becky went in the grass and eventually Travis went looking for her, causing another timeline, or time loop, of Becky’s actions to take place.

The grass creatures, that somewhat resembled a tribe, were unnecessary besides the fact that they were probably connected to the rock. They only appeared to “sacrifice” Becky and her child and did nothing else besides that.

One thing the movie had that was morally wrong was when Becky hallucinated Cal feeding her “grass”, — Cal describes, “It’s just grass and seeds and so on…cows do it all the time.” — but it turned out that Ross was feeding Becky her newly born child. It can be seen as revolting yet very Stephen King-esque. 

“[I felt] highly disturbed,” Anna Nibbe, a sales supervisor and er coordinator at Wagner Equipment, said. “I’m glad they didn’t show real specifics; just enough to freak you out without going too far.”

The blades of a fake grass plant stand perfectly still. In the movie, the grass is over six feet tall, towering over every character present.

The ending of the movie wasn’t very clear at first; most of it took place in the grass and, like a maze would do, there were many ways of getting out. Tobin didn’t necessarily escape; Travis lifted him and suddenly, Tobin was in the church.

“The movie was suspenseful when the kid ends up back at the church,” Junior Samantha Perez said. “And when Travis has to touch the rock in order to sacrifice himself for everyone else.”

However, the movie did give good foreshadowing, in general, but especially when Becky, Cal, Travis, and Tobin were at the bowling alley and it was shown that Tobin’s dog ran into a small patch of tall grass and didn’t appear on the other side. It would make sense that in the end, Tobin went through the same type of “portal” to end up at the church.

The cinematography was very stunning; there were close ups on the grass blades and the raindrops, which really showed how beautiful the grass could be besides that it confuses timelines. The focusing of the camera was powerful in a way that it showed what the directors wanted the audience to see and what was to be kept secret.

“If you have ever had anxiety or [been in] a place where you see no way out, just like being lost in the woods or a blizzard…it was like white out conditions in a snow storm,” Chris Maddox, a window tint shop owner, said. “It gave me anxiety, but I worked through the movie.”

Watching through the movie once may not be enough to connect all of the dots, such as with other movies like The Sixth Sense and Donnie Darko. Though it may not be the favorite of some online reviewers, In The Tall Grass has good aspects that may not be ignored by some. Though some parts may seem to be a little too much or an action may not add up, the idea of a time loop is still very interesting, making this a good movie to experience.