Venturing into the woods to meet up with a remote colleague, scientist Martin Lowery (Joel Fry) and park ranger guide Alma (Ellora Torchia) find themselves thrust into the path of the seemingly hospitable woodsman, Zach (Reece Shearsmith).
Desperate to understand their situation and make it out of the woods with their lives, the duo endure a gruelling venture into a local legend that will have them questioning the very earth on which they stand and the friends they thought they knew.
Hyper-realistic, intense, and borderline confusing, In The Earth explores the line between the relationship humans have with nature…with varying success.
Taking place during a global pandemic (not explicitly COVID), the film’s greatest strength is in capturing the lingering uneasiness living during a viral outbreak has on your mind. The forest setting adds to this, creating a concoction that is almost a little too anxiety-inducing to bear. Fortunately, Torchia’s Alma gives us a solid rock in which to keep our footing so we don’t completely bailout.
With that being said, where this film falls short is with its storytelling and lore building. It’s almost as if writer and director Ben Wheatley spent most of his time asking “how can I make this as visually interesting as possible” without really giving us much to work with outside of that. We get bits and pieces scattered throughout, of the interesting legend of the woods but when you reach the point in which you finally think you’ll start to be able to put all the pieces together, you’re rushed through hasty exposition and thin answers. As interesting as it is, it’s a bit underwhelming and shallow in the endgame.
The best way to describe what we have here is a cross between Annihilation (2018) and The Ritual (2017) but not as strong.
I feel it also necessary to note that if you are photosensitive or have issues with flashing lights, this film won’t be for you. The latter half of the film is disorienting with the amount of flashing white lights and wonky visuals.
Review – In the Earth
Reviewed online, May 24, 2021. Rating: R. Running time: 107 min.
PRODUCTION: (US) A Neon release of a Rook Films, Neon production. Producer: Andy Starke. Executive producers: Jeff Deutchman, Amy Jump, Tom Quinn, Ben Wheatley.
CREW: Director/writer/editing: Ben Wheatley. Cinematography: Nick Gillespie. Music: Clint Mansell.
CAST: Joel Fry, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires, Ellora Torchia, John Hollingworth, Mark Monero.