In the Tall Grass (film)

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In the Tall Grass
In the Tall Grass poster.jpeg
Official poster
Directed byVincenzo Natali
Screenplay byVincenzo Natali
Based on"In the Tall Grass"
by Stephen King and
Joe Hill
Produced by
CinematographyCraig Wrobleski
Edited byMichele Conroy
Music byMark Korven
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • September 20, 2019 (2019-09-20) (Fantastic Fest)[2]
  • October 4, 2019 (2019-10-04) (Netflix)
Running time
  • 90 minutes[2][1]
  • 101 minutes (Extended version)[3]

In the Tall Grass is a 2019 Canadian supernatural horror drama film written and directed by Vincenzo Natali. It is based on Stephen King and Joe Hill's 2012 novella of the same name. It stars Harrison Gilbertson, Laysla De Oliveira, Avery Whitted, Will Buie Jr., Rachel Wilson, and Patrick Wilson.

The project was in initial development in early 2015, and went forward in May 2018, when streaming service Netflix announced that it had purchased the film rights, setting Natali to direct and adapt the screenplay. Principal photography took place in summer 2018 in Toronto, Ontario.

The film had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on September 20, 2019, and was released on Netflix on October 4, 2019. It received mixed reviews from critics, with many praising the performances, atmosphere and faithfulness to the novella, but criticizing its inconsistent tone and dialogue.


Siblings Becky, who is 6 months pregnant, and Cal DeMuth are travelling to San Diego. Midway there, they hear a young boy, Tobin, calling for help from a field of tall grass. His mother, Natalie, shuts him up. Concerned, the siblings enter but quickly get separated and find that their distance changes unnaturally. Panicked, they decide to leave but can't find the road. Becky encounters Tobin's father Ross, who tells her to stay with him and not to lose sight of him but she unfortunately ends up losing him. Cal stumbles across a bruised, dirty Tobin holding a dead crow. Tobin claims the grass won't move dead things and buries the bird in the path and then he tells Cal that Becky will die soon and that the rock told him that. When Tobin leads Cal to a rock in the field and tells him to touch it, interrupted by Becky's scream, he is attacked by a ghost.

The father of Becky's child, Travis, arrives looking for her and Cal. He investigates the field, stumbling across Tobin, implying that they are acquaintances, leading him to Becky's corpse. Tobin arrives at a nearby church with his parents. Hearing Travis, who is now calling out to Tobin, their dog Freddy runs into the grass, and the family runs in after him, where Travis hears Tobin and looks for him. The family panics, with Ross stumbling across the rock and touching it. Becky and Cal re-enter the grass as Tobin states that Freddy died. Knowing the grass's trait, Travis, Becky and Cal move towards Tobin, and all four find each other. Travis tells Becky and Cal that they had been missing for two months. It is also revealed that Travis originally was not interested in being a father and asked Becky to abort their baby, which she refused. As a result, Becky and Cal were traveling to San Diego to meet a family interested in adopting her baby when it was born as she did not feel ready to be a single parent. Travis expresses regret at his actions and now wants to be part of his child and Becky's lives.

The group spots a building in the distance. Becky receives a phone call from someone warning them not to keep making the same "mistake". The grass seemingly enters Becky's uterus, and she passes out, only to be revived by Ross, who then reunites with Tobin and says he'll show them out. Ross leads them to the rock where they are confronted by Natalie, she warns them not to touch the rock. Then, she claims she saw Becky's corpse earlier. Natalie warns that Ross is dangerous, and the others decide to leave. Travis attacks Ross who then breaks his arm and crushes Natalie's head. Ross claims the rock showed him the truth and the way out, but he doesn't want to leave.

Becky, Cal, Travis, and Tobin reach the building, and while scouting, Travis and Cal discover that Freddy has managed to escape the field via a "hole" that leads to the road. Jealous Cal, implied to have incestuous feelings for Becky, lets go of Travis as he slips, causing him to fall off the roof. Tobin flees into the field when Ross follows them to the roof. The two follow Tobin, but Becky refuses to leave Travis and goes back as Cal flees, Cal is strangled to death by Ross. It is revealed they are in a time loop, with Cal permanently being hunted by an insane, possessed Ross in the grass. Travis survives and searches for Becky. Becky says the baby will be fostered.

Becky is attacked by Ross but escapes by stabbing him in the eye, and a thunderstorm begins. Becky is confronted by Grass Creatures, who carry her to the rock, which has prophetic marks relating to her pregnancy. Becky makes a phone call, pleading for her past self to prevent Cal from hurting Travis. As she screams in pain from contractions, the ground underneath the rock opens, revealing multiple roots that turn into humanoid figures reaching towards her. She passes out and wakes up to Cal who squeezes water into her mouth. He is holding her baby. She goes back to sleep and wakes up to Cal feeding her baby to her and telling her it is just grass and seeds. Becky realizes that "Cal" is Ross. Tobin finds Travis and tells him that Ross killed both the baby and Cal, and is going to keep killing them over and over. They are confronted by Ross, who mortally wounds Travis. As Ross attempts to force Tobin to touch the rock, Becky attacks him and scratches out his other eye, before dying from her wounds. Travis kills Ross. To understand, Travis touches the rock and sees strange visuals. He grabs Tobin's hand and guides him to an exit, instructing him to stop Becky and Cal from entering.

Tobin emerges across the road as Becky and Cal are about to enter the grass, convincing them to stay out by showing them Becky's necklace that Travis gave him, hence closing the loop. Becky decides to keep her baby as they drive back home. Travis listens to them leaving and dies.




Director Vincenzo Natali had wanted to make a film adaptation of Stephen King and Joe Hill's short story In the Tall Grass as early as 2015, when he stated:

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]

On May 7, 2018, it was announced that Netflix would adopt the short story, with Natali hired to write and direct, and Steve Hoban, Jimmy Miller, and M. Riley producing.[5][6][7]

On May 28, 2018, Natali announced that manga artist Shintaro Kago would design the concept art for the film adaptation.[8]


Alongside the initial production announcement, it was reported that James Marsden was in negotiations for a lead role.[5] On August 7, 2018, it was announced that Marsden had bowed out of the film due to scheduling conflicts and been replaced with Patrick Wilson. Additionally, it was reported that Laysla De Oliveira, Harrison Gilbertson, Avery Whitted, Rachel Wilson, and Will Buie Jr. had also joined the cast.[9][10]


Principal photography was expected to begin on July 30, 2018, and last until September 14, 2018, in Toronto, Ontario.[11] On July 24, 2018, it was reported that a dilapidated church set had been constructed for the film on a rural road in Perth South, Ontario.[12] On September 20, 2018, filming took place outside of a bowling alley in Elmira, Ontario.[13]


The film had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on September 20, 2019. On October 4, 2019, the film began streaming on Netflix.[14]


On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 36% of 76 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.2/10. The website's consensus reads: "A potentially intriguing premise is rapidly lost in the weeds during In the Tall Grass which struggles to stretch its slim source material to feature length."[15] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 46 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[16]


The film was nominated for Best Streaming Premiere at the 2020 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards.


  1. ^ a b c "In the Tall Grass [programme note]". Vancouver International Film Festival. 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-09-11. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  2. ^ a b "In the Tall Grass". Fantastic Fest. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  3. ^ "In the Tall Grass | Netflix Official Site". Netflix.
  4. ^ Evangelista, Chris (May 8, 2018). "Stephen King Adaption 'In The Tall Grass' Headed to Netflix". /Film. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (May 8, 2018). "Netflix Lands Stephen King & Joe Hill Novella 'In The Tall Grass' With James Marsden, Helmer Vincenzo Natali". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (May 8, 2018). "Netflix Nabs Rights to Stephen King-Joe Hill's 'In the Tall Grass'". Variety. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  7. ^ Chitwood, Adam (May 8, 2018). "Netflix Lands Stephen King Adaptation 'In the Tall Grass' with James Marsden". Collider. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 7, 2018). "Patrick Wilson, Laysla De Oliveira, Harrison Gilbertson Star In Netflix Stephen King/Joe Hill Novella 'In The Tall Grass'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Vlessing, Etan (August 7, 2018). "Patrick Wilson, Laysla De Oliveira, Harrison Gilbertson Join Stephen King's 'In the Tall Grass'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  11. ^ "What's Shooting? | ACTRA Toronto". ACTRA Toronto. Archived from the original on September 22, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  12. ^ Bridge, Terry (July 24, 2018). "Field of screams? Stephen King movie set rises near Stratford". The London Free Press. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  13. ^ Reiner, Veronica (September 20, 2018). "Elmira Bowl transformed to serve as set for film shoot - ObserverXtra". ObserverXtra. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  14. ^ Couch, Aaron (July 30, 2019). "Taika Waititi's 'Jojo Rabbit' to Premiere at Fantastic Fest". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  15. ^ "In the Tall Grass". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2023-01-23. Edit this at Wikidata
  16. ^ "In the Tall Grass". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved 2023-01-23.

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