WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Netflix's In the Tall Grass, now streaming.
In the Tall Grass is based on the 2012 novella from Stephen King and his son, Joe Hill, which director Vincenzo Natali adapted into a Netflix movie. It revolves around teenage siblings Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) and Cal (Avery Whitted) en route to San Diego, only for the duo to stop on the highway next to an old church.
They end up hearing the cries of a young kid, Tobin (Will Buie Jr.), who's trapped in the tall grass on the other side of the road, and as the siblings go inside to rescue the boy, they discover the acreage is something far more sinister. At the heart of it all, though, isn't the lush, it's a mystical rock which predates time itself.
When the siblings find Tobin, they discover the field keeps them all in a time loop, dying each time they re-enter once they make the wrong decisions. Eventually, Becky and Cal meet Tobin's parents, Ross (Patrick Wilson) and Natalie (Rachel Wilson), but discern something isn't right. When night falls, Ross shows signs of delusion and begins attacking the rest of the group, seemingly possessed. It turns out, he's been corrupted by the rock in the center of the field, which Becky's ex, Travis (Harrison Gilbertson) also discovers.
Ross wants to kill Travis, and after murdering Natalie as a blood sacrifice, he reveals why the rock is so important and why everyone should touch and become one with it like he did. It's directly in the middle of America, acting as the heart of the country, and more so, it's God's judgement. Once someone trapped in the field touches it, they gain knowledge on the Earth and how to escape the field if need be. Sadly, by this time they've been driven mad by power, which is what happened to Ross. Thus, he's decided to remain in the grass to punish the sinners.
The rock allows this by keeping them all in the loop, testing them so it can punish them repeatedly for making wrong decisions. Ross sees this as them going against God's will with the loop being a maze to see who's pure. When the teens tr to rescue Tobin initially, Travis came along right after and met Tobin's family inside the field as he tried to find Becky, only for Tobin's family on the outskirts to hear Travis and enter the field themselves. It's a vicious cycle and the latter scenario is what kick starts the beginning of the film, with Tobin crying out for help, thus giving Ross the maze he needs.
What the rock is also doing here is acting as an extension of human conscience, testing humanity and corrupting them to see if they keep repeating their sins, even though they should have an idea of what's right. It's why when Ross tries to rape Becky, we see the ground opening up to try to swallow Travis and we witness thousands of bodies there in what seems to be a Purgatory beneath the grass.
To Ross, these kids deserve punishment because Travis initially wanted a pregnant Becky to abort their unborn child; Cal deserves pain as he harbours incestous thoughts for Becky, not to mention he's sociopathic and wants to murder Travis; and lastly Becky has to pay because she was actually heading to San Diego to give up the baby to a family. Ross, on the other hand, is pulled in as he hates his family for stunting his career as a musician and now wants to act as God's instrument, with the rock making him judge, jury and executioner in this closed loop, even leaving avid viewers and readers of the story wondering if ultimately, it really was an avatar for the Devil.
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.