Saturday, October 5, 2019

"In the Tall Grass" on Netflix is a solid horror thriller

Packed with Stephen King tropes, and to say more would be to spoil the fun. Directed by Vincenzo Natali, who is (hopefully? still) making The Peripheral for Amazon.

From a SyFy interview about making In the Tall Grass:
“Suddenly I could see there was a movie there.”

King and Hill seemed to agree, because they gave him the option. For a dollar.

Usually, these kinds of high-profile options run can five to seven figures, but that's not how they do it in Maine.

“You option the material for a dollar, but you have to reach certain benchmarks,” Natali said. “It's a very clever thing he does, because he avoids getting his projects trapped in development hell. You have to reach certain benchmarks, and if you don't then you can lose the option.”

One of those benchmarks is a tight turnaround time on the writing of the script. Natali was given three months to deliver a draft, but the timing of the deal was problematic for the writer/director. He had already committed to some TV projects, which meant that he had to bang out the first draft in just about three weeks.


But he met his deadline, and while he'll never know for sure if either King or Hill actually read the script, the option continued to the next step, which was to get it set up at a studio or production house in a timely matter.

But Natali soon found out that this story wasn't exactly studio material.


Nobody wanted to make the movie, and having not met his obligation, Natali technically lost the option. This was five years ago.

A few years later, something big happened


“There was a lot of horticultural R&D involved in this,” Natali said. “The grass itself is an organism that we can't control, but we had to schedule the movie around the optimal period to shoot in it. It obtains a certain height, but then after that it starts to brown and flower and do all kinds of things we don't want. So we had this window and the whole production had to be built around this very specific time that was based on hearsay. We were basically just listening to the farmer.”
(This is a good podcast with Natali from 2018.)