Wow, it’s been a long time since I updated this blog. Even longer since I scribbled some guff about movies! But hey, it’s October, I’ve been stuck inside most of the year, haven’t spent real time with my girlfriend in almost a year, and lately, I’ve had a hankering to take a break from TV show binge-watching and instead, watch some fucking movies.
Since it’s October, the month of Halloween, what better way to celebrate than having a month-long horror movie marathon, right? Maybe not 24/7/31—I do still have a job—but I’m trying to squeeze in two to three a night. We’ll see how that goes.
So let’s start with In the Tall Grass, which I technically watched on the 30th September but eh, close enough.
In the Tall Grass
In this Canadian supernatural horror movie (based on a 2012 novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill), pregnant Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) and her brother Cal (Avery Whitted) are on their way to San Diego. Stopped at the side of the road, they hear a young boy, Tobin (Will Buie Jr.) calling for help as he’s lost in some rather tall grass—which explains the movie’s title. They venture in, but things get a bit weird, and soon they realise there might not be any way out.
Usually, I’d delve a bit deeper into the setup, but in this case, we’d be heading straight to spoiler town. To summarise the basics, there are some pseudo-religious witterings, an evil rock, a massive dickhead, some incesty-insinuations, and time-bending shenanigans. In the Tall Grass is relatively quick to get to the point, however, once it gets there, it starts to dally around with a whole heap of oddball ideas that aren’t really well defined.
What Was That?
It perhaps doesn’t help the movie occasionally leans towards Game of Thrones S8-style all-consuming darkness. There are more than a handful of occasions where I legitimately couldn’t see shit. Unlike GoT, this is less of an issue with the movie’s lighting (or your improperly calibrated TV) and more to do with the raging throbber contemporary filmmakers have for smash cuts, jump cuts, and Fast and Furious-style cinematography. Pack it in, eh? It’s not nearly as cool as you think it is.
To be fair, these overly confusing scenes are thankfully rare. They’re problematic insofar as they appear to be utilised to enhance the movie’s dramatic highpoints and stoke tension. Instead, they function mostly as a distraction, pushing the audience away when they should be pulled closer. It’s hard not to feel their primary purpose is to act as bandaid for the movie’s various issues by offering an illusion of style that the filmmakers have done little to earn.
Books Vs. Movies – The Unending Conflict
Now, I’ve not read the novella this movie is based on, and this film doesn’t really make me want to read it. It’s not a bad movie, but too often it seems like a collection of ideas loosely assembled into a narrative with nary a thought given to coherence or consistency. Characters have a bizarre grasp on the situations they find themselves in; at one moment displaying next to no awareness of their plight, and then an almost omniscient understanding of all of the woo.
Some scenes seem to serve no overall purpose. A particular prolonged scene occurring in the final third stands out—it’s hard to tell whether it has been added for shock value or simply to bump up the movie’s running time. Whatever the case, it’s hard to follow the method of the movie’s “big bad” when our only window into it is a jabbering maniac spouting off about redemption. Perhaps the answers lie in the extended cut?
People Go Nuts in Some Grass, Mayhem Ensues. Fin.
Really, that’s the crux of this movie’s problems. The premise may not be wholly original but is strong enough to provide ample mystery and suspense. Instead, writer and director Vincenzo Natali is happy enough to present the more fantastical elements void of proper context. Consequently, while entertaining in places, it is unsatisfying. Whatever the reasons behind the movie’s events, and those oft-apparently superfluous sequences, remains a mystery at the film’s conclusion. It’s unlikely that many would care about the answers to those lingering questions. Still, I suppose it gives all of those “The Ending to Goldfinger Explained!” YouTubers something to do.