In the Tall Grass (film)

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In the Tall Grass
In the Tall Grass poster.jpeg
Official poster
Directed byVincenzo Natali
Produced by
Screenplay byVincenzo Natali
Based onIn the Tall Grass
by Stephen King and Joe Hill
StarringPatrick Wilson
Harrison Gilbertson
Rachel Wilson
Music byMark Korven
CinematographyCraig Wrobleski
Edited byMichele Conroy
Copperheart Entertainment[1]
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
Running time
90 minutes[2][1]; 101 minutes[3]

In the Tall Grass is a 2019 Canadian supernatural horror drama film written and directed by Vincenzo Natali and starring Patrick Wilson. It is based on Stephen King and Joe Hill's 2012 novella of the same name.

The film had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on September 20, 2019. It was later released on October 4, 2019, by Netflix.


Siblings Becky and Cal Demuth travel to San Diego so 6 months pregnant Becky can organize a way to give up her baby. While stopping outside an old church, the pair hears a young boy named Tobin shout for help from a nearby field of tall grass. They later hear his mother, Natalie, begging him not to call anyone in. Concerned, the pair enters but quickly gets separated and finds that their distance from one another changes strangely. Increasingly panicked, the pair decides to leave but is unable to. Night falls and Cal stumbles across a bruised Tobin holding a dead crow, who claims the grass won’t move dead things, and buries the bird in the path. Becky encounters Tobin’s father, Ross, but they get separated in the grass. Tobin leads Cal to an ancient rock in the field and encourages him to touch it, but they are interrupted by Becky who is attacked by an unseen figure.

Meanwhile, the father of Becky’s child, Travis, arrives looking for her and Cal. He finds their car parked outside the church and decides to investigate the field of grass, eventually stumbling across Tobin who leads him to Becky’s rotting corpse. As Travis grieves, he loses sight of Tobin. At the same time, a seemingly earlier version of Tobin arrives at the church with Natalie and Ross. 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 and scatters, with Ross stumbling across the rock and touching it as night falls. Morning rises and shows Becky and Cal re-entering the grass as they investigate Tobin’s cries. They find the boy and are confused at the timelines happening.

The group spots a building in the distance and walks to it. Becky receives a phone call from someone sounding like her, stating that they need to stop Cal hurting Travis. As they walk, the grass seemingly enters Becky’s uterus and she passes out, only to be recovered by Ross who reunites with his son as the sun goes down. Ross leads them to the rock where they are confronted by a startled Natalie who claims she saw Becky’s corpse earlier and warns them not to touch the rock. Ross gets more and more agitated until the others decide to leave. He wounds Travis and kills Natalie before pursuing the others, claiming the rock showed him what is really happening and that he doesn’t want to leave.

Becky, Cal, Travis, and Tobin reach the abandoned building and, while scouting, Travis and Cal discover Freddy has managed to escape the field via a hole. A jealous Cal, who is implied to have incestuous feelings for Becky, pushes Travis off the roof, alerting Ross to their location. Tobin, having witnessed Cal pushing Travis, panics, and runs into the field while Becky and Cal attempt to escape together. Becky refuses to leave Travis and goes back and as Cal flees, he is strangled to death by Ross where it is revealed they are in a time loop, permanently being hunted by an insane Ross in the grass. Travis is revealed to have survived the fall, and goes looking for Becky. They can hear each other on opposite sides of the field and Becky admits she was going to give up the baby for adoption.

Becky is attacked and sexually assaulted by Ross but escapes as a rainstorm hits the field. Becky is confronted by Grass Creatures who carry her to the rock which has prophetic markings relating to Becky’s pregnancy. After seeing a horrific vision underneath the rock, Becky passes out. She awakens to find Cal who cares for her and feeds her with what is revealed to be her baby. Becky slowly realizes that she was hallucinating "Cal", who is revealed to be Ross. Moments later, Travis stumbles across Becky's unconscious body. Tobin finds him and they are confronted by Ross who mortally wounds Travis. As Ross tries to make Tobin touch the rock, Becky arrives and saves Tobin, before dying from her wounds. Travis suddenly appears and kills Ross, momentarily realizing the only way to understand the grass is to touch the rock, he does so, seeing a series of strange visions. He grabs Tobin’s hand, takes him through the grass and drops him through a hole, instructing him to stop Becky and Cal entering the grass.

Tobin emerges in the church as Becky and Cal are about to enter the grass, and convinces them to stay out by showing them Becky's necklace which he has brought with him through the hole, hence closing the loop. Becky decides to keep her baby as they drive back to the station. Travis listens to them leave and dies peacefully in the grass.




On May 7, 2018, it was announced that Netflix was producing a new adaptation of Stephen King and Joe Hill's short story In the Tall Grass. It is set to be written and directed by Vincenzo Natali and produced by Steve Hoban, Jimmy Miller, and M. Riley.[4][5][6]


Alongside the initial production announcement, it was confirmed that James Marsden was in negotiations for the film's lead role.[4] 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.[7][8]


Principal photography was expected to begin on July 30, 2018 and last until September 14, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario.[9] 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.[10] On September 20, 2018, filming took place outside of a bowling alley in Elmira, Ontario.[11]


It had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on September 20, 2019. On October 4, 2019, the film was available to stream on Netflix.[12]


Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 41%, based on 54 reviews, with an average rating of 5.31/10. The site's critics' 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."[13] On Metacritic, the film has an aggregated score of 46 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "Mixed or average reviews".[14]


  1. ^ a b c d "In the Tall Grass [programme note]". Vancouver International Film Festival. 2019. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  2. ^ a b "In the Tall Grass". Fantastic Fest. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Fleming Jr, Mike (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.
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (May 8, 2018). "Netflix Nabs Rights to Stephen King-Joe Hill's 'In the Tall Grass'". Variety. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Chitwood, Adam (May 8, 2018). "Netflix Lands Stephen King Adaptation 'In the Tall Grass' with James Marsden". Collider. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  7. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "What's Shooting? | ACTRA Toronto". ACTRA Toronto. Archived from the original on July 24, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Bridge, Terry (July 24, 2018). "Field of screams? Stephen King movie set rises near Stratford". The London Free Press. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  11. ^ Reiner, Veronica (September 20, 2018). "Elmira Bowl transformed to serve as set for film shoot - ObserverXtra". ObserverXtra. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  12. ^ Couch, Aaron (July 30, 2019). "Taika Waititi's 'Jojo Rabbit' to Premiere at Fantastic Fest". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  13. ^ "In the Tall Grass (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  14. ^ "In the Tall Grass Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 10, 2019.

External links[edit]