One of the many reasons I was actually looking forward to catching Netflix’s first in a long intended line-up of horror films this Halloween month was its director Vincenzo Natali, and his innovative debut feature, ‘Cube’, one of the best single environment movies out there. Ofcourse, there are the other better known ones, including ‘Devil’ and Ryan Reynold’s ‘Buried’, but ‘Cube’ tattled with the idea of space dynamics and constriction in a very interesting manner. This is of course apart from his latest being an adaptation of Stephen King’s and his son Joe Hill’s Esquire short story of the same name, ‘In The tall Grass’, wherein Natali experiments with something similar, but out in the open.
What works in the favour of the film is the same feeling of claustrophobia and urgency that is usually characteristic of such films. You can read my take on the film here, and an expanded commentary on its ending, here.
Needless to say, if you watched the film and ending up liking it, you would want to know if Netflix or Natali would be interested in doing a sequel or not. Well, the maths on whether Netflix greenlights a sequel to an original film it makes is increasingly twisted. Looking at the bleak ratio of the number of original films it has released in the last year, and the number of films that have actually gone into sequel production mode, roughly a one to hundred ratio, should give you a fair idea. It doesn’t simply stop at the opening a film receives in terms of viewership.
You will see a number of Netflix films don’t go down the sequel path even if they have a bravado opening. It is about the potential longevity of a franchise, and the people the content has engaged over the months since it has released. Plus, Netflix’s business is more engagement based, being the first in the game to even popularise the term “bingeing”, which for obvious reasons cannot be applied to films. In any case, having a clear picture right now would simply seem futile.
Ironically so, Netflix has pretty deep pockets when it comes to the aid of filmmakers, both indie and mainstream, but quite the opposite when it comes to sequels or continuing franchises. Yet again, it is the exact polar opposite for TV shows, who don’t see as much resistance behind the scenes as Netflix films. Perhaps they are planned as one time projects in the first place unlike theatrical releases, where every second film is considered a potential franchise starter.
Perhaps it’s all a number game, or something else. The final tab on this one states that things may not be looking all too bright for a sequel, regardless of how it performs when it opens today, especially because nothing has been heard on this front. However, if you have been following what we write, you know that that has never stopped us from putting our gears in motion and extrapolating what the sequel could be about, if at all it happens.[SPOILERS ahead for the film and its ending].
The film twisted its ending from the novella, which contrarily had plenty room for a sequel. By giving its key characters a sort of happy ending, or a semblance of one, the film closes its door on a direct sequel. The only way I see this work now is through new characters stepping into the endless tall grass field exploring new horrors since the opportunities there too are practically limitless.
Vincenzo Natali too, had this to say about the nature of the vast yet confined space of the tall grass field: “I find that far from being confining. They actually open things up, because it allows me to explore a different kind of space in different ways, and that’s part of the fun. I charted this thing visually as something that would start very, very grounded. We begin the movie much like Stephen King writes, where you feel like this is a real place with real people that we can relate to, and then we go down the river and it’s going to get weirder and weirder and weirder, until by the end it’s utterly psychedelic. That was obviously part of the visual design and the fun of it.”
Of course, since little light was shed on the mystery of the black rock, the field, the people trapped inside for eternity, and its connection to the church, the “way out”, a potential sequel could continue exploring that. As a way of maintaining continuity between the current film and a possible sequel, maybe the new characters could bump into one of the older ones trapped inside the fields already, say Travis, or Ross, played by Patrick Wilson. We will have to strictly wait and see for this one.
Read More: In the Tall Grass Ending