In the Earth

April 16, 202160/1007 min
Joel Fry, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires, Ellora Torchia
Written by
Ben Wheatley
Directed by
Ben Wheatley
Run Time
1h 40min
Release date
April 16th, 2021
Overall Score
Rating Summary

When the U.K was shut down last year because of Covid, Ben Wheatley did what any creative would do with unlimited time on their hands, he wrote a movie.  Of course making that movie with certain restrictions in place would be a lot more difficult, unless you did it out in the middle of the nowhere and with a small cast, then it is something that could be possible. Here  we are a year later and we have In The Earth, a movie written during a pandemic, that has a pandemic as a central part of the story, but don’t worry it is not that central, in case you are wondering.

Martin Lowery (Joel Fry) is some sort of scientist who has come out to the woods to check on someone he has been in correspondence with . You see after few months that person, Olivia Wendle (Hayley Squires), stopped writing back. Worried, Marin heads out to look for her. When he arrives and goes through an all too familiar scene for us from the last year. Everything from hand sanitizers and masks, to stop the spread signs, but this is the only reminder you will have that the story takes place during a pandemic. Martin is not there for the peace and quiet, no he is there to find a friend so he is paired with Alma (Ellora Torchia), who will lead him to where he needs to go. This is where Wheatley’s story is at its slowest and really is the most boring part of the film. There is something about walking in the forest that is never really that appealing unless someone is chasing you with a machete or you are running away from some orcs. While nothing might be happening, Nick Gillespie the director of photography sure makes nothing happening looks great. All that quiet changes on the second night as while Martin and Alma are asleep in their tents, someone attacks them and takes everything from their shoes to their equipment. Now shoeless and a lot lighter they continue their journey only to have Martin become injured. Luckily for them they meet Zach (Reece Shearsmith), who seems like he has arrived just in time to rescue them, that is until you see what he is really up to.

This is where things get good, as Zach does his best Annie Wilkes impersonation and really makes Martin and Alma’s life a nightmare. After enduring some rough times, they manage to escape and continue to look for Olivia, but that’s when things really go off the cliff. Where the first half just had a lot of trees and walking going on, this is where the movie will assault both your eyes and ears in ways you were not expecting.  Wheatley makes this small movie feel large in scope and as the climax was happening I was regretting I was not seeing this in a theater, a place I know it would have engulfed me in. Wheatley, who last brought us a remake of Rebecca feels much more at home in this lower budget offering and is on par more with Free Fire and A Field in England. For Into the Earth, Wheatley’s story might be the weakest link, as he gets strong performances form his entire cast and the film as I said before is beautifully shot.  When you add the goodness that is the synth score by Clint Mansell you end up with a movie that has more things working for it than against. In the Earth ends up being a nice addition to the ever growing folk horror films, even if it is a little off balanced, this is a trip to the woods you will ultimately enjoy.

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