Netflix Releases In The Tall Grass

Today saw the release on Netflix of the Stephen King and Joe Hill film adaptation of the novella In The Tall Grass.

This Netflix adaptation is Directed by Vincenzo Natali. Natali’s fans are familiar with his prior work on films such as Cube, and Splice. Natali also wrote the screenplay, based on the novella.

Screenplay Writer/ Director Vincenzo Natali

The story of In The Tall Grass follows a brother and sister who whilst travelling to San Diego, stop near a mysterious field of extremely tall grass. As they stop they hear a voice crying for help. As they venture into the Tall Grass, the duo realise that all is not as it seems and something lurks within the grass of a sinister nature.

I won’t reveal more, as I really enjoyed it and to aid you in enjoying it I think knowing less is best about the outcome. I will say however that Natali compiles the source material brilliantly, and though the ending differs from the Novella, it’s not disheartening that they changed it.

The film stars Laysla De Oliveira and Avery Whitted as Becky and Cal Demuth.

Laysla De Oliveira as Becky

Laysla De Oliveira is convincing as Becky. She’s expecting her first child and unsure of her future as she travels with her brother to decide the fate of her unborn child (will she keep the baby or put it up for adoption?). As our tormented and exhausted maze runner, Oliveira shows an array of emotions through the film and creates a likeable and engaging character on screen, as Becky. Known for minor television roles, Oliveira is truly coming into her element in In The Tall Grass and her role as Veronica in Guest Of Honor (released last month, and starring David Thewlis and Luke Wilson).

Avery Whitted as Cal

As Becky’s Irish Twin (in the book it’s explained their ages are so close that Becky and Cal are like twins in age), Cal is the more mindful one. Avery Whitted is fresh on the screen, his prior credit only being The Vanishing Of Sidney Hall in 2017. The dramatic mystery starred Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Nathan Lane, And Tim Blake Nelson. As Cal, Whitted gives a notable performance but is still finding his screen presence. We feel for Cal of course but at times I found his performance unconvincing.

Becky’s estranged love interest and baby daddy Travis McKean is played by Harrison Gilbertson. Gilbertson is an Australian actor known for extremely well known prior roles in the recent Picnic at Hanging Rock television series, Leigh Whannel’s Upgrade, Ben Young’s Hounds Of Love, aswell as in films such as Need for Speed, Beneath Hill 60, and Look Away.

Gilbertson is easy to empathise with. When he enters the film, what we are already perplexed by becomes even more elaborate. And it’s Travis who works hard to unravel the Tall grasses mysterious behaviours. Gilbertson does wonderfully to hold certain elements of the film’s encounters together.

Harrison Gilbertson, Laysla De Oliveira, and Avery Whitted

Also starring in In The Tall Grass is Patrick Wilson (who replaced James Marsden after scheduling conflicts) as Ross Humboldt and Will Buie Jr and Rachel Wilson as his son and wife, Tobin and Natalie.

Patrick Wilson as Ross

Wilson is incredibly well known for his roles throughout the last decade in the Insidious, Conjuring, Annabelle and The Nun Films – totalling 7 films (including in the role of Ed Warren, husband of Lorraine Warren the paranormal investigator). Wilson has an impressive body of work over the last two decades and doesn’t let fans down in this film. Stepping away from his usual roles, we get to see a differing side in this performance and he truly makes the film, in a very pivotal role as Ross Humboldt.

Will Buie Jr as Tobin

As Wilson’s son Tobin Humboldt is twelve year old Will Buie Jr. This sharp child actor  has only been acting in films and on television for two years, but his performance in In The Tall Grass is the second most impressive (after only Patrick Wilson’s) in this film. We feel for poor Tobin and we understand his attempts to warn others and avoid the horrors lurking in the Tall Grass. We empathise as the film churns on and we learn more and more about Tobin’s plight, because of Buie’s amazing performance.

Patrick Wilson, Harrison Gilbertson and Laysla De Oliveira

Lastly is Rachel Wilson as Natalie Humboldt. We see less of her in the film than we do of the other five principal cast members, but when she appears she always brings something more about the story with her. This proves her character to be very valuable, and her portrayal as interesting. Wilson is a well known Canadian actress having starred in films such as The Glass House, Saw: The Final Chapter And Hellions.

In the Tall Grass as a whole is a brilliant adaptation of the source material. The creepiness and disillusionment Of each character is strong.

The cinematography is beautiful. Watching each blade of grass wave in the breeze or crane as though listening, reminds one easily of the rows of corn in The Children of the Corn films. The instances of despairing isolation and dizzying bewilderment, cast us back to Kubrick’s take on the Shining in 1980. We get lost in this grassy maze and it’s wonders, both good and bad.

Natali has created an almost perfect film with In The Tall Grass, fans will be impressed by the way it evolves smoothly. As we transition through each scene into the next, until we reach the climax. As I said this differed from the source material. It’s okay. It’s not great but it fits for the film, that’s really all I can say.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Peifer in Categories, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Amnesiac (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Amnesiac (2014)

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Amnesiac poster

On August 10, 2015, I was given the opportunity to attend Fangoria’s screening of Amnesiac, starring Wes Bentley and Kate Bosworth. It’s not often I go out to a movie, and if I do it’s because I think it needs or deserves the big screen experience. I went into this one with no expectations, and though this little movie with a cast of eight actors could have been more comfortably viewed from the couch, I was pleasantly surprised and actually didn’t regret coming out from under my rock.

The film (directed by Bosworth’s husband Michael Polish) centers around Bentley’s character waking from days of unconsciousness with a cast on his leg, a head wound, no memory, and a strange feeling that all is not as it seems… Amnesiac starts off slowly and builds tension as the story unfolds. I can’t say much about the plot, for fear of spoiling any of the twists, and I also suggest not watching the trailer (it’s both misleading and gives away way too much). I felt like the less you know before viewing, the better off you are, and any preconceptions about this movie should be forgotten in order to fully enjoy it. It’s a stylish Hitchcockian neo-noir psychological thriller/mystery with characters that exhibit David Lynchish eccentricities. It’s a more cerebral film that leaves most of the gore up to your own imagination, with most (but not all) of the violence happening off screen.

I’ve seen some reviews that were unfavorable at best, but I really liked it and I give it a big dismembered thumbs up. It’s a well acted film (especially Bosworth’s icy Hitchcock blond), and Polish does a solid job in the director’s chair crafting a visually striking picture with the use of light and shadow… So much so that it almost appeared to be in black and white at times, and I would almost say it should have been.

If you are looking for a quirky little film with a little tension and some mystery (a little dark comedy), and an ending that I felt tied up most of the loose ends and gave a solid resolution, then I recommend this one for you. Amnesiac saw its wide release August 14, 2015, in theaters and VOD.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments