In the Tall Grass ★½

Given the strength of its pedigree and the intrigue of its premise, it’s rather astonishing how fast Vincenzo Natali’s “In the Tall Grass” completely loses your interest. Adapted from a recent piece of short fiction that Stephen King and his son Joe Hill co-wrote for Esquire Magazine, the film opens by introducing us to another of the shifting nightmare spaces that Natali first explored so effectively in 1997’s “Cube.” This time around the location isn’t an inescapable prison full of horrifying death traps, but rather a deep and disorienting field of — you guessed it — tall grass that’s located somewhere in the American Midwest (where exactly in the American Midwest is something of a plot point in a movie that only has something of a plot).

If that sounds like a less frightening scenario than just about anything the director has started with before, that’s because it is, but viewers familiar with the source material (or any of King’s work, for that matter) know that evil loves to disguise itself in the mundane. The problem with this endless and instantly forgettable genre exercise — doomed to haunt the darkest recesses of Netflix’s servers for all time — isn’t that it lacks for mystery; the problem is that the film immediately gets mired in the same mystery that drives its paper-thin characters insane. If nothing else, you’ll know how they feel.

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