When it was announced that the feature film that would open the newly launched Sitges Festival 2019 would be 'In The Tall Grass', there were many who raised our eyebrows in a gesture of skepticism and, why not say, slight disappointment. And it is that Netflix productions are not usually synonymous with the highest quality, but, in this case, in this combination of proper names rises as the one composed by Stephen King, Patrick Wilson, and Vincenzo Natali, is different.
Once the screening is finished, and despite the terrible contact that the abominable short film for Save the Children has led, directed by the son of Chicho Ibañez Serrador, who has kicked off the opening session, we can only be thankful for the opportunity to see this new adaptation of the master of literary terror on the big screen and not on television —not even in the projector— of our living room.
Because, surprisingly, on Netflix they seem to have found the formula —almost— perfect to adapt to King's good after the remarkable results obtained in 'The Gerald's Game'; giving on this occasion an intelligent twist to the simple homonymous story on which the film is based, articulating a suggestive and atmospheric journey through purgatory that extracts gold from the principal virtues of its director.
If there is something for which many filmmakers have praised the work of Netflix, that is the creative freedom that they usually offer when shaping their works. Taking advantage of this opportunity, almost remote in regards to large studios, Natali has taken over both the tape and the original material, giving free rein to her artistic drives and profiling a product that makes her seal recognizable twice.
It doesn't take too much effort to relate 'In The Tall Grass' with the dazzling raw opera of the American-Canadian filmmaker; a 'Cube' marked by its aspect of bottled narration in which the apparent simplicity of its premise resulted in an intricate development, full of unknowns and unexpected turns, whose base finds a clear reflection in this horror story.
Again, Natali plays with a handful of characters, recruiting them this time in a maze of mud and vegetation that, little by little, and by the inclusion of certain fantastic elements, it ends up becoming a living hell.
It is precisely these points that separate the film from the simple story on which the ones that end up craving as a double-edged sword for 'In The Tall Grass' are based, resulting in a slight confusion once its mid-point is exceeded and faces its final line. Lack that is overcome without major problem to enter the game proposed by Natali, and to embrace some characters that, despite being slightly blurred, capture much of the essence with which King often pervades his literary protagonists.
Narrative apart, the second great virtue of Natali present in the new Netflix is inherited from his prolific television tour; more specifically of his work in series like 'American Gods' and, especially, the glorious 'Hannibal'. We are referring, of course, to an enormous audiovisual power in which experimentation, the handling of the camera in a free and precise way and creativity are at the service of both history and the generation of suggestive atmospheres.
It is a pity that the third act of 'In The Tall Grass' screams for an extra glue that closes its cracks and gives strength to the internal mechanisms of the terrifying field in which it is set. In spite of everything, we are facing a fantastic sample of which, having delivery and equipment at the height, Netflix productions can achieve remarkable results. Unfortunately, we are faced with another opportunity to reopen the debate; and this is an experience that, if seen on the little immersive small screen, will lose integers irremediably.