There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
2020 Netflix Halloween Countdown
As crazy as it is to believe, it is already October 2020—it has been a bizarre year, for sure. For the past three years, I have been spending October watching and reviewing some of the spooky, scary, gory, chilling, and horror-themed movies on Netflix. With each review, I will include a table that ranks these movies from best to worst. This year will be my fourth year doing this, and I plan on publishing a new review each day. Some will be from movies that I have reviewed before, but there will be some new movies on here is well. So if you are looking to get in the Halloween spirit by watching some Halloween-style movies, then these articles are for you!
In the Tall Grass
Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) and Cal (Avery Whitted) are on a road trip. Becky, being pregnant, needs to stop to throw up, so Cal pulls over. There is nothing but an abandoned church and an endless field of tall grass as far as the eye can see. Yet Becky hears a child’s voice coming from the tall grass.
The boy is calling for help. He sounds close but claims to have been stuck in the grass for days. Thus, Cal and Becky decide to go into the grass to help. Unfortunately, they quickly discover that there is something very wrong about this place. They become disoriented, they get split up, and the tall grass seems to be moving them away from one another. They stumble upon the boy, Tobin (Will Buie Jr.), but are still far too disoriented to have any idea how to get back to the road. They need to get themselves together and get out of this grass before they starve, but they will soon discover that there are very dark forces with them in the grass.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Grass (+8pts)
The Trippy Sequences (-3pts)
Travis & Tobin (+4pts)
Patrick Wilson (+5pts)
Becky, Cal & The Baby (-4pts)
Pro: The Grass (+8pts)
The tall grass was a very interesting supernatural place. It felt claustrophobic at times, disorienting at others, and felt very unpredictable the entire time. The characters could see the church at times, but felt lost all the same. It was easy to put myself in these characters’ shoes, wondering what I would do in their situation, and it was easy to feel the characters’ sense of hopelessness.
These characters were constantly stumbling upon new things within the grass, and yet there were always new things to discover. The grass had an interesting, mysterious lore, that I thought the filmmakers explained just enough. We, the viewers, learned what the characters would realistically have learned in this situation, and we only ”know” what the characters assume. This worked so well because it was realistic and did not add any lengthy exposition to the story, but it also worked because the lore was still very mysterious, well after the characters learned everything they could learn about it. The tall grass was interesting, it was mysterious, it was suspenseful, and it was supernatural. The movie was not perfect, but it had a really effective concept.
Con: The Trippy Sequences (-3pts)
There were a few of these weird trippy sequences, and they were more confusing than they were essential to the story. I understand what a couple of them were trying to tell the viewer, but these things never ended up going anywhere, so it just felt like wasted time. The filmmakers wanted the grass to feel supernatural. There were a few really cool moments that did this effectively, such as Travis and his method of marking where he had been so far.
The supernatural moments that worked more effectively, were the ones that were more subtle. The trippy sequences, on the other hand, were very much in-your-face. These were triggered by a character touching something, such as the grass, and the filmmakers wanted to show the effect that the grass had on its victims. I get that, but this could have been achieved more subtly. Instead, the in-your-face, trippy, disorienting nature of these sequences left me wondering why the filmmakers chose to keep these sequences in the final cut of this movie.
Pro: Travis & Tobin (+4pts)
Travis (Harrison Gilbertson) is Becky's ex-boyfriend. When Becky and Cal go missing, Travis goes looking for them, and finds himself in the grass as well. This character very much had a redemption story, and it was one that I enjoyed following. Him and Becky have their issues, but Travis cares about her and wants nothing more than to get her out of this madness. I do not want to say too much more about this character, as that would start to spoil his story, but know that I liked that story.
Then there was Tobin (Will Buie Jr.), who served as the conduit for much of what the viewer (as well as Becky, Cal, and Travis) learned about the grass. This was due to the fact that Tobin had been stuck in the grass for a longer period of time, and wants the main characters of the story to help him get out. This character was interesting, and mysterious, as we met him at different points in time. Young actors can go either way. Sometimes they deliver the strong performances that their roles need from them, other times their inexperience bleeds onto the screen as they deliver performances that can take the viewers out of the movie. Will Buie Jr. was definitely the former, as he did a really good job bringing his character's panic to the screen while also staying mysterious, and while also giving the main characters the information they needed. This character was a very involved character that demanded a lot from the actor in the role and I thought Will Buie Jr. did a great job with it.
Con: Time (-3pts)
Time ended up being a whole confusing aspect of this story. Throughout the movie, I liked what the writers did with the concept of time within the tall grass. It made the story really mysterious, and raised the scale of what was happening. However, I thought the writers did a poor job of following through with the concept of time.
Maybe the book handled it better, but in the movie, I did not feel like the filmmakers went anywhere with time. The filmmakers played with the concept of time by basically introducing different timelines. This meant that, as the movie got closer to its climax, the multiple timelines made me less invested in the character’s goals in the current timeline. It also made the stakes feel less severe, while making the ending feel somewhat inconclusive. The movie definitely had a satisfying conclusion to one timeline, but the many other timelines did not have a satisfying conclusion. It did not ruin the movie, but it made the ending of the story somewhat less impactful.
Pro: Patrick Wilson (+5pts)
Patrick Wilson has proven himself in dramatic, suspenseful, horror movies. With The Conjuring, and Insidious, he has been in some very well done horror movies and he has done well in those movies. As a result, he seemed very much in his element in In the Tall Grass. He did a very good job with this role, being cheery and optimistic in some scenes, and eerily suspicious in others. He played the lighter side of his character effectively, he played the darker side of his character effectively, and he did a great job when he needed to balance both.
Con: Becky, Cal & The Baby (-4pts)
I really did not care about this story-line. I thought Cal's motivations were creepy to an unrealistic degree. However, with some more development, this character could have potentially worked. Then Becky's pregnancy felt very irrelevant to what was happening, but the story kept focusing on it anyway. I have a strong feeling that, given who the authors were that wrote the book that this movie was based on, these characters most likely got a lot more development in the book version of this story. In this movie, however, they felt pretty one-dimensional, and I really do not understand why Becky's pregnancy got so much focus. Maybe I will have to give the book a shot.
Grade: B- (82pts)
In the Tall Grass is about a group of people who find themselves lost in a mysteriously supernatural field of tall grass. The grass is disorienting, it seems to mess with time, and it seems to move its victims around. There are dark forces at play here, and it was fascinating to see how these characters dealt with their situation. It was so easy to put myself in these characters' shoes, and I really got a sense of the hopelessness and panic that one would experience if they found themselves lost in this field.
The premise was solid, and was the best thing going for this movie. It was mysterious, in a way that made me want to see what happened next, and there seemed to be revelations around every corner, which kept me invested. Patrick Wilson was captivating to watch in his role, and Will Buie Jr. did a really great job of capturing the complicated emotions of Tobin. The movie featured a decent redemption story for Travis, but it also featured a weak story-line that I did not care about at all (concerning Becky, Cal, and the baby). The story played with the concept of time, which added mystery throughout the rising action, but ended up taking the stakes out of the climax and made for a somewhat inconclusive ending. The movie had some significant plot issues, that perhaps the book did a better job of dealing with, but I still enjoyed this movie. It was mysterious, suspenseful, thrilling, compelling, and my wife and I had a good time watching it.
Train to Busan
In the Tall Grass
The Babysitter: Killer Queen
Hold the Dark
Would You Rather
The Open House
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House