Director Vincenzo Natali
Screenplay André Bijelic, Graeme Manson, Vincenzo Natali
Starring Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson, Maurice Dean Wint
In The Tall Grass got me thinking about Natali and his previous work. Listening to last week’s Empire Magazine Movie Podcast, I remember hearing Helen O’Hara talk about how much she appreciated Cube. I have some free time, because I am have to work tonight. It was free on Vudu. Even though I had seen the film before, I wasn’t sure how much I had seen. So I gave it another run though. This is a lot of exposition.
The film and its concept are amazing. Several people wake up isolated in cubes. They soon discover each other. Then they discover access to each adjoining cube is possibly rigged to kill. They have no idea how they got where they are, or why they are there. They don’t know how to get out. They decide to use each other in the effort.
The acting in this film is almost diametrically opposite its premise. The characters are bland at best, and an assault to the senses at worst. This puts the viewer out of the mood almost immediately and it never really allows an access back.
The two most blatantly bad performances are in Wint as police officer Quintin and Guadagni as Helen. They spend much of the film trying to figure out how to out emote one another. It makes one wish that they would both end up being next in line for a horrible death.
Strangely, the film serves as an indication of how far along Natali has come as a writer. His work with the camera, angles and ingenuity are almost as good here as in his most recent outing. He knows how to make the best out of each scene and it’s plain he knows how to make the budget work.
The story bears a few similarities with In the Tall Grass. The characters are all on their own journey of discovery. There are a steady influxes of passive aggression leading to straight up aggression. There’s even someone who is let go from a great height.
De Boer and Hewlett provide the best acting one is going to see, even if the latter only wakes up in the last act. The feeling overall is this might be a fine film if the acting could catch up to the story and the cinematography.
As it stands, it is more a curiosity than something to engage beyond just that.
(**1/2 out of *****)