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Netflix’s In the Tall Grass Ending Explained


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Summary

  • In the Tall Grass ends with a twisted and tragic climax, involving Becky feeding on her own baby and her eventual death.
  • The time travel mechanics of the film are complex and involve a time loop that traps the characters in the tall grass.
  • The Church of the Black Rock of the Redeemer plays a significant role in the story, and all the abandoned cars belong to previous victims of the grass.


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Vincenzo Natali’s horror film In the Tall Grass has a harrowing yet ambiguous climax, so it helps to have In the Tall Grass explained in detail — including how the ending differs from the source material. Written by Stephen King and his son, Joe Hill, In the Tall Grass was originally published in two parts in Esquire magazine. In the Tall Grass focuses on a brother and sister who are lured into a field of tall grass by a boy’s cries for help. Once inside, they become separated and discover that the tall grass is twisting space and moving them around, making it impossible for them to either find each other or escape.

Released on Netflix, In the Tall Grass stars Laysla de Oliveira and Avery Whitted as Becky and Cal DeMuth, siblings who are on a road trip to San Diego. Unlike the original Stephen King In the Tall Grass short story, the movie introduces Travis (Harrison Gilbertson), the father of Becky’s baby, who wasn’t interested in being a father but goes looking for Becky after she goes missing. Also lost in the tall grass are Ross (Patrick Wilson), Natalie (Rachel Wilson), and Tobin Humboldt (Will Buie Jr.), a family who were lured into the grass by Travis’ voice, and who in turn lured Becky and Cal in.

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In The Tall Grass’ Ending Explained

Becky Is Fed Her Own Baby

In the Tall Grass Tobin

In the Tall Grass explained the final fates of its main characters in the ending. Becky manages to escape from Ross Humboldt by stabbing him in the eye, only to then be mobbed by the figures she has been seeing in the tall grass. They carry her to the Black Rock of the Redeemer, and in the mud in front of it, she suffers a miscarriage. Becky awakes to find Cal crouching over her, with the dead fetus wrapped in a bundle. What happens next is the In the Tall Grass‘ most disgusting scene. Becky loses consciousness again and wakes up to find Cal feeding her something. She asks what she’s eating and he replies, “Grass. Just grass.”

Too late, Becky realizes that the food tastes familiar because it tastes like her, and Cal has been feeding her pieces of her own baby. Not only that, but it’s not Cal feeding her, but Ross Humboldt. Travis and Tobin arrive in the clearing to find Becky near death, and soon after, Travis is attacked by Ross, who stabs him in the stomach with a broken bone that he pulls out of the mud. Ross then tries to force Tobin to touch the rock but is stopped by Becky, who removes his remaining eye with her necklace.

Finally, some justice is served in the Stephen King/Joe Hill collaboration during In The Tall Grass’ ending. Travis kills Ross by strangling him with a bundle of grass, but Becky also dies from the trauma of her miscarriage. Realizing that he too is dying from his stab wound, Travis touches the rock to gain an understanding of the grass, which he then uses to transport Tobin back to the church.

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How The In The Tall Grass Time Loop Works

The Time Travel Rules Of The Netflix Horror Movie Are Complex

Stephen King's In The Tall Grass Netflix Still

Though there are unanswered questions, In the Tall Grass explained the mechanics of its time travel loop at the ending. Tobin emerges from the church to find that he has traveled back to just before Becky and Cal entered the tall grass. As they listen to the other Tobin’s cries from inside the grass, Tobin warns them not to go into the field and shows Becky the bloodied double of her necklace that Travis gave to him. Realizing that something isn’t right, though not that Tobin has traveled back in time, Becky says that they should take Tobin to the police station in the town that they passed through.

Becky also decides that she doesn’t want to give her baby up for adoption in San Diego after all. In the Tall Grass’s ending scene sees Becky and Cal leave, and back in the tall grass, Travis succumbs to his stab wound, with the grass closing over him. Notably, the tall grass manipulates not only space but time as well: The three parties who enter the tall grass are trapped in a time loop wherein they keep following each other’s voices (or, in Travis’ case, Becky’s lost copy of Jane Eyre) into the field.

Trapped within the In the Tall Grass time loop, they die over and over again, killed by Ross Humboldt, and their only hope of redemption is the black rock inside the field. Touching the rock will gift them with the knowledge of how to leave the tall grass — while also making it so that they never want to. All of this leads up to In the Tall Grass’ ending, which is ultimately twisted and tragic.

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Is Travis Still Stuck In The Tall Grass?

It’s Unlikely That Travis Escaped The Field

In the Tall Grass - Travis

While In the Tall Grass explained how the time loop works, it also left viewers with a key question. By helping Tobin to break free and warn Becky and Cal away from the field, has Travis broken the In the Tall Grass time loop and also liberated himself, Ross, and Natalie? The final shot of In the Tall Grass, in which Travis is shown dying on the ground before the grass closes over him, seems to indicate that this isn’t the case. At the same time, Travis didn’t originally set out to pursue Becky and Cal until they’d been missing for two months, which would presumably mean that there’s still a version of Travis back home.

Meanwhile, the situation with In the Tall Grass‘ Humboldt family is different. It appears that the Humboldts arrived at the church in the silver car that Cal parks behind. It’s the only car not covered in dust when audiences see the Humboldts enter the tall grass later. This would mean that the Humboltds were chronologically the first group to enter the tall grass — even though they were lured in by Travis. Since there was no one to prevent them from going in, and they never managed to escape, it’s heavily implied that Ross and Natalie remain trapped for In the Tall Grass’ ending, and Tobin has effectively been orphaned.

The time travel mechanics of In the Tall Grass’ ending are deliberately left ambiguous, which is probably for the best since they mainly exist in service of the film’s horror premise. In fact, the Stephen King movie explained nothing else about the time loop, apart from its basic mechanics and the final fate of its characters. While one could speculate about branching timelines and multiple universes created by Tobin’s escape from the tall grass, the simplest reading of In the Tall Grass‘ ending is that Tobin, Cal, and Becky escape the field, while Travis, Ross, and Natalie do not.

The Church Of The Black Rock Of The Redeemer Explained

The Abandoned Cars Belong To Previous Victims Of The Grass

In the Tall Grass - Church

King doesn’t shy away from religious themes in his works, such as Salem’s Lot and The Stand, and In the Tall Grass‘s Church of the Black Rock of the Redeemer is no different. Something made explicit by Stephen King and Joe Hill in the short story is that all the cars at the Church of the Black Rock of the Redeemer belong to people who have been lured into the tall grass, which is why they’re all covered with dust and seemingly abandoned. The movie In the Tall Grass explained this only through the quick scenes in the beginning.

Meanwhile, the In the Tall Grass‘ book also reveals that the local people know about the tall grass and the black rock, enough to avoid it, and that every time another car is abandoned they loot it for valuables. In the Tall Grass’ novella also suggests that the Church of the Black Rock of the Redeemer was probably built by those same people, with Cal observing, “They probably love this old field. And fear it. And worship it… And sacrifice to it.” Patrick Wilson’s Ross Humboldt sheds further light on The Black Rock of the Redeemer, revealing that the church is much older. As In the Tall Grass explained in Ross Humboldt’s words, the black rock already existed before the continents shifted.

The scene in which the ground in front of it opens up to reveal a pit of writhing bodies emphasizes that the rock has been collecting its victims for many thousands of years. Its true nature and origin, like the nitty-gritty details of how exactly it twists time and space, are deliberately left mysterious — something that’s common in both King and Hill’s stories. When people touch the rock, they are “redeemed,” becoming one with the tall grass. The grass-headed figures that carry Becky to the Black Rock of the Redeemer during In the Tall Grass’ ending may be people who have been “redeemed” by it and transformed over time.

What The Ending Of In The Tall Grass Really Means

The Movie Has Deeper Themes About The Relationship Between Evil And Choices

Harrison Gilbertson, Laysla De Oliveira, and Avery Whitted from In the Tall Grass

Many viewers have wondered what is In the Tall Grass about beyond the surface-level horror and tension. Firstly, In the Tall Grass features a lot of religious themes explored through the Church of the Black Rock of the Redeemer. Good and evil are major undertones in all of Stephen King’s works, and In the Tall Grass explained a similar overarching theme in the events leading up to the ending. The black rock represents the ultimate evil as it manipulates the world around everyone trapped in its grasp. However, in the simplest terms, the movie adaptation of In the Tall Grass is about choices.

Throughout In the Tall Grass, characters are thrown forward and backward in time while constantly being given the chance to reevaluate all the choices they’ve made thus far, good and bad. Travis realizes in the end that he was wrong to try and control Becky’s choices, and he makes the ultimate sacrifice for In the Tall Grass‘ ending to restore the timeline and bring Becky back to safety. In the Tall Grass‘ ending may be happier than the original novella, but it leaves the mystery of the tall grass and the rock no less twisted — all the better to stick in the minds of the audience.

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How Director Vicenzo Natali Explains The In The Tall Grass Ending

Becky Eating Her Baby Was A Make-Or-Break Moment

In the Tall Grass poster

Director Vicenzo Natali has explained his perspective on the ending of In the Tall Grass, especially the importance of why Becky ate her baby and how it was shown on screen. “If I had been told I couldn’t have had that scene, I would not have made the film… In a way, it was the raison d’etre for me to make the movie,” said Natali (via Decider). “There’s a biblical quote in this, a metaphor, that all flesh is grass. That’s literalized in this moment when Becky eats her own baby.” Notably, the In the Tall Grass ending didn’t show Becky eating the baby, but instead implied the gore through obscured shots and crunching noises courtesy of “a mixture of prosciutto, corn syrup, chicken and chicken bones.”

“That moment [in the short story] takes the reader to a place they’ve probably never been before—a very primal, basic place. The film is really about that: What is it to be human? What is our relationship to nature? When we’re broken down to our most basic components, is there more to us than just flesh? Are we more than just grass growing out of the ground?”

As the director of In the Tall Grass explained further, not only was it unnecessary to literally show Becky eating her baby, but doing so would have hurt its visceral impact. “I actually thought that it could almost become laughable if you showed it. As is often the case with these things, it’s better if much of it is left to the audience’s imagination.” This ended up being the right decision, as the scene utilizes very little gore but remains truly faithful to how it was written in Stephen King and Joe Hill’s In the Tall Grass. Moreover, this also helped the movie adaptation retain the original overarching themes despite its different ending.

How In The Tall Grass’ Ending Compares To The Book

The Movie Changes Several Key Elements From The Stephen King & Joe Hill Story

In the original book by Stephen King and Joe Hill, In the Tall Grass explained little else about the time loop as well, but also envisioned a darker ending. After Cal touched the rock, he tricks Becky into eating her own miscarried baby. That element of In the Tall Grass is also even more upsetting than the movie, as Ross Humboldt forces the miscarriage by repeatedly kicking her in the stomach. In the Stephen King and Joe Hill book In the Tall Grass, Becky realizes what she’s been eating, and she is horrified. However, Cal and Tobin tell her that if she touches the rock, she’ll see that the baby is fine, and she’ll understand the grass and become part of it.

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The distraught Becky obeys and hugs the rock. Later, a group of hippies in an RV stop at the Church of the Black Rock of the Redeemer, planning to have a picnic. However, they hear a woman and a boy (presumably Becky and Tobin) calling them from inside the tall grass and decide to go in and rescue them. It’s suggested that some people should stay behind to set up the barbecue, but no one wants to miss out on the mercy mission, so they all head into the tall grass. In the Tall Grasstime loop continues on — at least in the book.

In the Tall Grass

Based on the novella written by father-son duo Stephen King and Joe Hill, In the Tall Grass is a horror film that follows a pregnant woman and her brother following the voice of a young boy crying out for help into a seemingly endless field of grass. Finding the boy, the two soon realize escape is near impossible, as the mysterious maze has a mind of its own.

Release Date
October 4, 2019

Director
Vincenzo Natali

Cast
Avery Whitted , Laysla De Oliveira , Rachel Wilson , Patrick Wilson , Will Buie Jr.

Rating
TV-MA

Runtime
101 minutes

Writers
Vincenzo Natali

Studio(s)
Netflix

  • In the Tall Grass Movie Poster

    In the Tall Grass

    Summary:
    After hearing a young boy’s cry for help, a sister and brother venture into a vast field of tall grass in Kansas but soon discover there may be no way out…and that something evil lurks within.

    Release Date:
    2019-10-04

    Cast:
    Avery Whitted, Laysla De Oliveira, Rachel Wilson, Patrick Wilson, Will Buie Jr.

    Director:
    Vincenzo Natali

    Genres:
    Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Drama

    Rating:
    TV-MA

    Runtime:
    101 minutes

    Writers:
    Vincenzo Natali

    Budget:
    $5 million

    Studio(s):
    Netflix

    Distributor(s):
    Netflix

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