Movie Review: In the Earth (2021)

From long time personal favourite director Ben Wheatley (seriously, Kill List is a must watch by everyone) comes In the Earth, a 2021 horror film. A scientist, Martin (Joel Fry, Game of Thrones) is sent to a rural English town amidst a global pandemic to study the unusually fertile forest area and assist the studies of his former partner, Dr Olivia Wendle (Hayley Squires). To guide him through the forest, Martin is assisted by park guide Alma (Ellora Torchia), but are soon found by Zach (frequent Wheatley collaborator Reece Shearsmith), who is living in the forest to escape the sickness in the village.

+ the very limited cast does mean you grow attached, for better or worse, with each of the characters. Martin has the connection to the plot, but Alma knew more of the setting, so seeing them work as a unit made for a fun ‘buddy’ system. Shearsmith and Squires have personalities that compliment the two main protagonists on a sort of ‘horseshoe bend’. I enjoyed the characters, even if none stood out as particularly must-see
+ sounds and frequencies play a part in the plot, and this makes for some phenomenal, droning, haunting and literally sickening music and sounds at times. I had my expensive surround sound headphones on for this, and to say I felt like I was in the middle of these scenes would be an understatement
+ real life COVID, and in-movie something similar plays a strong part in the small cast and locations used. From a meta standpoint, this was the first time for me since Australia’s long lockdowns that I’ve seen it in a film and it really did add some immediate tension to things even if it was simply what has come to be regular distancing/testing procedures

– overall and generally speaking, I did enjoy the plot, but there were some really funky pacing issues. Set ups led to conflict, which resolved either really quickly or after a too-long stretch of the runtime, before something similar happening over again. I was invested in getting answers to my questions, so in that regard the ending is not great, and will leave you with that feeling of simultaneously wanting more but feeling any more will just make it worse
– because the soundtrack was so fantastically intense it made me feel a bit sick. Frankly, that’s not ideal even when it’s intentional

Should you see this film: This is a hard one to recommend. I watched it just because I have enjoyed director Ben Wheatley’s previous works, but this didn’t resonate the same way that Kill List or even High-Rise did. It might be worth a watch if you’ve run through your horror backlog, but otherwise this is safe to skip.

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