In the Tall Grass

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In the Tall Grass
In The Tall Grass cover.jpg
e-book cover
AuthorStephen King,
Joe Hill
CountryUnited States
GenreHorror, suspense
Publication date
June/July–August 2012
Media typeMagazine

In the Tall Grass is a horror novella by American writers Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. It was originally published in two parts in the June/July and August 2012 issues of Esquire magazine. This is King and Hill's second collaboration since Throttle, published in 2009.[1][2] On October 9, 2012, In the Tall Grass was released in e-book and audiobook formats, the latter read by Stephen Lang.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

Cal and Becky Demuth are inseparable siblings (being called Irish twins by their parents, although they are 19 months apart). Becky finds out during her sophomore year of college that she is pregnant, leading the twins' parents to suggest she go live with her aunt and uncle until the baby is born. Since it is spring break, Cal decides to accompany her on her cross-country trip. They stop at numerous tourist locations along the way, including the biggest ball of twine.

After driving for about three days, they stop at a field of tall grass after they hear a little boy named Tobin calling for help. The twins stand outside the field, listening to Tobin screaming for help, and his mother Natalie yelling at him to stop yelling, saying that "he will hear you". Cal thinks he hears Tobin just a few feet inside the field. Cal walks into it to rescue the boy, Natalie's cries having mysteriously gone silent. At first, Tobin's voice sounds so close, Cal dives for him, only to end up lying in a puddle of gritty water. Tobin's voice now sounds about twenty feet away.

Becky, scared of being left alone, calls 911 as she follows Cal into the field, but the signal is cut off when she is just a few feet in. While trudging along looking for Tobin (and Becky), Cal stumbles across a golden retriever's dead body, having died of dehydration. An hour and a half of cat-and-mouse calling, running, and chasing later, none of the three have located each other.

Becky continues to call for Cal and Tobin, but has no luck and recites limericks to comfort herself, as she is dehydrated and tired. She spies someone ahead, and a man steps out of the grass in front of her. He introduces himself as Ross, saying that he is the father of Tobin and the husband of Natalie. He begs Becky to follow him, saying that she will be safe with him. Despite not trusting Ross, she follows him anyway. He lures her to a stamped-down circle of grass, where Becky finds Natalie's bloody, dismembered body. Ross explains that he found "the rock" and that "the dancing men have shown him the secrets of the tall grass". He then attacks her, trying to kill the baby, but Becky stabs him to death with her house key.

Cal, now severely dehydrated and exhausted in his attempts to look for Becky, feverishly drinks the gritty water that the long grass grows in. Now half-crazed, he attempts to burn down the field, but the grass is so wet that none of his matches burn for more than a few seconds. He then finally runs into Tobin, who is eating a dead, rotting crow. Tobin explains that the rotting dog was his, and that "the tall grass doesn't move dead things." Tobin leads Cal into a clearing in the middle of the grass, where a large rock (with strange drawings of dancing men and words written all over it) stands in the middle of it. Tobin says that the rock will help Cal find Becky like the rock helped Tobin and Cal find each other. Cal, despite his fear of the rock and the strange, seemingly-moving drawings, gives in and touches it.

Meanwhile, Becky gives birth prematurely. Cal and Tobin then appear and wrap the baby in a shirt. Becky then passes out to "slurping sounds." When she wakes up, her baby is nowhere in sight. Cal and Tobin drag a half-conscious Becky to the rock and throw her on it.

An unspecified amount of time later, an RV full of hippies pulls into a parking lot across the street to have a barbecue and smoke marijuana. They hear Tobin's calls for help, and the whole group walks into the tall grass to help.

Film adaptation[edit]

Director Vincenzo Natali wanted to do a film adaption of In The Tall Grass as early as 2015 when he announced:

Who would think that grass could be frightening? Trust Stephen King and Joe Hill to find a way. They have transformed an otherwise innocuous Kansas field into a stage for some of the most disturbing horror fiction I have ever read."[4]

but the project failed to start. Then in May 2018 the video streaming site Netflix announced that it has purchased the film rights with Vincenzo Natali as director, who also wrote the adapted screenplay. Actor James Marsden was in talks to star. Filming was set to begin in the Summer of 2018 in Toronto.[4][5]

On May 28, 2018, Vincenzo Natali announced via Twitter that manga artist Shintaro Kago would be the concept art designer for the film adaption.[6]

On July 23, 2018, a construction crew was spotted building an abandoned church in Perth South, Ontario for the film.[7]

On October 6, 2019, In the Tall Grass became available for streaming on Netflix.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "June/July 2012 Contents". Retrieved Sep 17, 2019.
  2. ^ "August 2012 Contents". Retrieved Sep 17, 2019.
  3. ^ "In the Tall Grass: Stephen King, Joe Hill, Stephen Lang: 9781442359888: Books". Retrieved Sep 17, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Evangelista, Chris (May 8, 2018). "Stephen King Adaption 'In The Tall Grass' Headed to Netflix". Slash Film. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  5. ^ Dillon, Ananda (May 9, 2018). "Netflix Buys Stephen King & Joe Hill's In the Tall Grass". Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  6. ^ Ressler, Karen (May 28, 2018). "Manga Artist Shintaro Kago Designs for Film Adaptation of Stephen King, Joe Hill's In the Tall Grass". Anime News Network. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  7. ^ Bridge, Terry (July 24, 2018). "Stephen King movie being shot near Stratford". The London Free Press. Retrieved July 27, 2018.