Title – In the Earth (2021)
Director – Ben Wheatley (Kill List)
Cast – Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires
Plot – The woods are not a pleasant place to be for scientist Martin Lowery (Fry) and park ranger Alma (Torchia) as the two explore some secluded landscapes in the midst of a global pandemic.
“Nature is a force of evil”
Review by Eddie on 07/03/2022
In 2011 British director Ben Wheatley unleashed his sophomore feature film onto the unsuspecting public in the form of the unforgettable Kill List.
A stunning low budget effort that culminated in one of the most frantic and confronting finales of the last decade, Kill List seemed to suggest that Wheatley was announcing himself as a new talent to be reckoned with, but sadly 10 years on from the effort that made his name, the talented but wasteful filmmaker has struggled to deliver anything close to the quality of Kill List in the time since its release.
There’s been cult efforts like Sightseers and A Field in England that may have their fans but overall failed to hit much of a mark and forgettable star studded features like High Rise, Free Fire and the disastrously boring Rebecca remake for Netflix and with Wheatley now seemingly selling himself out for sequels like Meg 2: The Trench and his now departed Tomb Raider follow-up with Alicia Vikander, it appears as though the once bright looking career of the director is destined for nothing more than more major disappointments, making one wonder if Kill List was nothing more than pure luck?
On paper one would’ve hoped that Wheatley’s Covid-19 inspired and shot low budget horror affair In the Earth might have been the film to showcase to the film community that he was far from a spent force but with an acid-trip like narrative that seems to relish more in strobe lighting than developing any time on likeable characters, decipherable plot points or scares, Earth is another hugely misguided Wheatley feature that feels more akin to an experimental student film than the work of an experienced artist.
It’s not to say Earth is devoid of opportunity, quite the opposite in fact as the film starts out promisingly enough with Joel Fry’s scientist Martin Lowery and Ellora Torchia’s park ranger Alma heading deep into some secluded woods on an equipment run/search for a missing scientist in the midst of a global pandemic but after a semi-promising build up and some creepy vibes stemming from the appearance of Reece Shearsmith’s potentially unhinged wood’s dweller Zach, Earth quickly dissolves into nothing more than a bonkers horror trip that is going to lose many a viewer long before the end credits begin to roll.
Under the circumstances of developing and filming a feature in the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic there are elements one can forgive too a film feeling more rough around the edges than usual but in this certain example Earth feels nothing more than lazy and underdeveloped with it hard to figure out exactly who Wheatley has made this film for and who he expected would enjoy it with it unlikely even the most forgiving of his fans will be able to stick up for this films worth now and into the future.
Final Say –
The nicest thing you could say about In the Earth is that its a unique ride but it doesn’t make it a good one, with this horror entry another example of a Wheatley property failing to launch, making one question more than ever if the director will ever make something of note again.
1 1/2 foot wounds out of 5