WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Netflix's In the Tall Grass, now streaming.
Based on the 2012 novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill, Netflix's In the Tall Grass is an existential experience, despite the seemingly simple-minded concept depicted in the trailers. In the heart of America, a couple of families become trapped in a field opposite a church, not realizing they're in a time loop, and luring one another in.
It turns out this haunted field acts as a gateway to Purgatory, with a mystical rock judging the families for their sins. With pregnant Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) and her brother Cal (Avery Whitted) trapped within, and Becky's ex-boyfriend Travis (Harrison Gilbertson), who tried to convince her to abort the baby, and the Humboldt family facing their fears in the grass, the film takes a mind-bending turn in the finale as some of the characters are offered a way out.
The Humboldt family patriarch, Ross (Patrick Wilson), has been possessed by the rock, and is trying to kill everyone he thinks is a sinner. He even tries to sexually assault Becky, leaving her for dead after impersonating her brother and feeding her stillborn baby to her. After earlier killing his own wife, Natalie, Ross then goes after Travis in front of his son, Tobin (Will Buie Jr.), to teach the boy a lesson. Luckily, Becky intervenes and takes out Ross, only to die in the process.
Travis finishes the job, killing Ross, but he realizes the only way out the field is the touch the rock. Tobin begs him not to, but he does, becoming consumed the same way Ross was. However, Travis' heart is in the right place and, after confessing how sorry he was for trying to abort his baby, he gains redemption in his possessed state as he unlocks a portal through which he sends Tobin. The bruised and battered kid ends up in the church, finally free from the maze.
TOBIN'S RESCUE MISSION
When Tobin is teleported out the field, he peeks through the church's window and realizes he's at the point where his past self in the grass called out to Becky and Cal at the start of the film. They ventured in after him, and Travis entered months later, despite it feeling as if only seconds passed. Then the latter called out to Tobin's family, luring them in, thus perpetuating the loop.
Tobin realizes he's there to now break the loop, and rushes out to warn the siblings to ignore his voice. They're confused, as he urges them not to go, showing Becky a locket Travis gave her. Tobin attained it from Travis when he went through the portal. Seeing that, Becky decides not to continue her journey to San Diego, where she was about to give up her unborn child for adoption. They take Tobin, and Becky tells Cal to head home, as she wants to have her baby, Ginny, just as the redeemed Travis hoped she would.
THE CYCLE COULD CONTINUE
It appears to be a happy ending, because when the car pulls off with Tobin, Travis dies in the grass and assimilates into the field, along with the thousands of dead bodies beneath. He has seemingly purified the rock governing the field, suggesting there is a chance it will no longer prey on victims once it is at peace. But we must remember past versions of Tobin and his family are still trapped within the field.
There's also a chance Travis (the one outside the field) might come looking for Becky again, and stop at the field if he hears Tobin calling, repeating the first act of the film. While the siblings are free and heading home, it's uncertain whether these other figures had their story end totally inside the field. This hints that, should other sinners pass by, the grass could call out once more, beginning the cycle anew. Well, as long as the rock feels hungry enough for more souls.
Written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, In the Tall Grass is now streaming on Netflix, and stars Patrick Wilson Laysla de Oliveira and Harrison Gilbertson.