‘In The Earth’ is a folk horror film directed and written by Ben Wheatley. It had its premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Neon.
Sometime in the future, a mysterious virus has ravaged the world and many scientists are trying to find a way to increase crops. Martin Lowery (Joel Fry) is an English scientist sent to Bristol to make contact with his old colleague and girlfriend Olivia Wendle (Hayley Squires) who has gone missing. He is guided into the woods by park guide Alma (Ellora Torchia), who tells him the legend of Parnag Fegg, a local spirit that causes death and rebirth. However, they are assaulted and find themselves being chased by Zach (Reece Shearsmith), a man who believes in the local folklore and plans on using the two of them as a sacrifice. As they attempt to hide, they realize that Olivia’s work could be unlocking something sinister in the woods.
This movie does something quite bold. It attempted to blend science fiction and folk horror with its set-up and antagonist. From there we are treated to a combination of how superstition can intertwine with science. The question is did it manage to mix those two well? More on that later.
The actors do a good job. You genuinely fear the terror that Zach brings to our protagonists and their desire to survive in the wilderness. As they struggle against nature and man, you hope that they can get out of the situation they find themselves trapped in with seemingly no help.
One of the things I applaud is the cinematography done by Nick Gillespie. He does a good job of making you feel the claustrophobia of the trees while showing the vastness of the forest itself. I applaud it because it added to the film’s overall vibe and terror.
Back to the blending of sci-fi with folklore. It blended okay, but I felt that the sci-fi aspect would be downplayed at times so they could shock you with its content only to resurface when it was convenient. This made the sci-fi aspect feel more like an annoying pet than a significant part of the horror that was happening. As a result, certain moments in the film, especially the climax, felt forced and were placed there just to give an answer. That does not take away from the genuinely chilling and terrifying moments in the plot, but it keeps it from going further.
Bottom line, In The Earth does have some chilling scenes that are highlighted by the cinematography and the character performances, though it gets in its own way with its genre mixing.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence and gore, Disturbing content, Strong foul language, Frightening images
FAVORITE QUOTE: This was too important to risk.
Check out the trailer below:
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