Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – In the Tall Grass (2019)

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Not all Stephen King short stories should be cushioned and expanded to feature length. Although this adaptation of a 2012 novella is a father-son collaboration with Joe Hill, the film itself is an interminable, lackluster hodgepodge of King’s previous motifs (religious fanaticism of The Mist, the insular claustrophobia of 1408, the sinister, rural setting of Children of the Corn, etc.).

Whenever Patrick Wilson’s name scrolls across the opening credits, it is almost certifiable that he will be typecast as the smug villain in sheep’s clothing (in this case, a gregarious real-estate agent on vacation with his family). Vincenzo Natali doesn’t contort our expectations with this thespian pigeonholing.

No amount of visual chicanery (e.g. Beveled angles over the field or a dewy droplets onto the absentee boyfriend’s face) can compensate for the needlessly turgid storyline. Weirdly, Netflix has been culpable for some of the more ambitious King transcriptions of late (Gerald’s Game and 1922) but this is absolutely the nadir.

The film fizzles long before Ross’ (Wilson) sanity dissolves. It retraces the origins of how the multifarious players become ensnared in the nexus and the element of time displacement is extremely self-evident before it is telegraphed in italics to the audience. Also, it is an audio headache with everyone in the midst of cacophonous shrieks throughout the blades.

Ultimately, the book isn’t substantial enough for an 1-hour-and-41-minute running time and the vagueness behind the Black Rock is not an asset. It should’ve been a lean viral video on Shudder instead of a picture which elicits unintentional guffaws during a grass-disciple chant and sacrifice.

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