In The Tall Grass: How the ending in Stephen King’s novella differed

In the Tall Grass

If you're looking for something scary this October, venture into the tall grass.

October is all about Halloween, and don't worry, Netflix hasn't forgotten what that means!

For horror fans, it's the greatest time of the year, as people begin to prepare their costumes, binge scary movies and carve pumpkins to illuminate the home. 

It's a wonderful month, but yeah, it's all about the films for the majority. The weather begins to perfectly suit the atmosphere; nights growing darker, providing an opportunity to settle in by the TV. Everybody has their Halloween favourites for every occasion - whether it's one that the family can all enjoy or one which frightens you every time. In the age of streaming, audiences will be looking to Netflix to provide the seasonal scares, and actually, they have some big things in store. 

Kicking things off nice and early is the unveiling of Vincenzo Natali's (Cube, Splice) adaptation of Stephen King and his son Joe Hill's horror novella In the Tall Grass

In the Tall Grass

More from the mind of Stephen King

The legendary Stephen King is the mind behind many classic films from The Shining to The Shawshank Redemption. As the years roll by, the well of his imagination appears bottomless. They don't call him the king of horror for nothing!

He and his son released In the Tall Grass back in 2012; it was published in two parts in Esquire Magazine, so it's a more recent tale of terror than the other King adaptations we're so fond of. 

The film has long been anticipated by both King and genre fans, landing on Netflix on Friday, October 4th 2019. After a brother and sister hear someone crying out from the tall grass, they venture in, soon to discover that they may have made a terrible mistake. It's a simple yet mysterious premise, but for those who want to dive in, let's discuss the book...

What happens?

The reputation of the novel is actually growing, and perhaps the film will help boost it considerably, as often audiences who enjoyed the film are compelled to visit the source material. Considering you're here, we won't address a spoiler warning, so let's dig into explaining it.  

Close siblings Cal and Becky venture out to her aunt and uncle’s when she discovers she’s pregnant. While on the way, they hear the voice of a young boy (Tobin) calling out from the long grass. Clearly in distress, they hear his mother (Natalie) telling him to stop, and the pair decide to help and enter the sea of greenery to look for him.

Things get more mysterious as they’re enveloped in the grass. The mother’s voice fades, and Tobin’s sounds near, only to instantly sound a great distance moments later. A dehydrated, deceased dog is discovered, and the implications are disastrous, to say the least. Could they be trapped? With the sibling split up, they attempt to reunite. Becky then meets Ross, who claims to be the patriarch of the family. She goes with him and he leads her to a clearing where the boy’s mother is there dead. He says he’s found the rock and that the dancing men have shown him the secrets of the tall grass, subsequently lunging at her resulting in his death.

With Cal still alone, he drinks some dirty water and tries to burn the field to little avail. However, he soon finds Tobin eating a dead bird, and the mystery thickens further: "the tall grass doesn't move dead things," he says. The boy leads Cal to a big rock, which has the dancing men Ross foreshadows on it. Tobin says it’ll help the siblings reunite, and he touches it in hopes it’s true. Becky gives birth and Cal and Tobin find her wrapping the baby up. She awakes to discover her baby gone and Cal and Tobin throw her onto the giant rock. After time has passed, strangers by the field hear Tobin calling out for help and enter. 


In the Tall Grass: Ending explained

"You can find things, but it's easier once they're dead."

Once people pass the grass, nothing makes sense. Time becomes irrelevant, and what they see gradually becomes horrifying. The film appears to take some of its own distinct paths, touching upon the source material while establishing some new ideas too. 

The place appears cursed, and once you enter it demands sacrifice. The people dancing in the drawings may have been paying respects to the land, or rather, the spirit or curse which has transformed it. Two different pairs in the narrative lay out a sacrifice at the rock, but rather than it freeing them, it creates a cycle. It seems a little like The Overlook Hotel if the lawn had never been mown. 

The ending is cyclical, with more people being led into the grass to inevitably befall the same fate as Cal and Becky, and the family before them. What traps unsuspecting strangers must date way back, having claimed so many over the years; a concept enhanced unsettlingly by the height of the grass. It's a maze in which there's no escape - you can only die or commit to it, working to lure more in as you once were. 

It's bleak stuff, but it's quintessentially King. However, the film ends differently, with Becky being able to escape and uttering the words "I have my own family now." It's a pretty good adaptation, although one which certainly does its own thing. 

In other news, is Mo Gilligan married?

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