Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill

4 Stars
“He wanted quiet for a while instead of the radio, so you could say what happened was his fault. She wanted fresh air instead of the AC for a while, so you could say it was hers.”
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What can I say? I can say “boy oh boy this was a humdinger of a little thrillride.”

Cal and Becky pull off of the highway to stretch their legs, but could never imagine what would happen next. On their side of the highway is the Black Rock of the Redeemer Church, on the other? A little boy screaming for help from beyond the tall Kansas grass. The two know right away they have to help the little boy, but when they enter the grass they discover finding their way out is impossible . . . unless they do one thing.

I don’t know if it’s embedded in my psyche after reading so many Stephen King books over the years or what, but I was on edge immediately upon starting this story. The first sentence grabbed me and by the time they heard the voice of little lost Tobin crying for help I was on the edge of my seat – where I firmly remained until the last page.

I’m going to go out on a limb and give credit where I think credit is due and say the magic of the unwasted page/paragraph/sentence in this short story is all owed to Joe Hill. I’m generally not a fan of even the novella, so an actual short like this is really not my cuppa. That being said, just as King knows the art of painting the horror story with a nice broad brush, Joe Hill knows how to get right to the point and not spend a second on unnecessary details.

Obviously I can’t tell you what lies beyond the “tall grass,” but I can tell you that it’s easily the most disturbing short I’ve ever (or probably will ever read) and it’s not for the timid . . . or the weak-stomached. It made Michael’s little “experience” with the worms and maggots in one of my faves look like child’s play . . .

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If you’re looking for something that will horrify you this Halloween week – In The Tall Grass is a winner.

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