IN THE EARTH (2020) Reviews of Ben Wheatley horror

   

In the Earth is a 2020 British micro-budget trippy virus-themed horror film made during the pandemic quarantine.

As a disastrous virus grips the planet, a scientist and a park scout venture deep into the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness as the forest comes to life around them.

Written and directed by Ben Wheatley (The Meg 2; Rebecca; High-Rise; Kill List; Sightseers) the movie will premiere at the virtual Sundance festival in January 2021. The movie stars Joel Fry (Silent Night; Cordelia), Ellora Torchia (Midsommar), Hayley Squires and Reece Shearsmith (Borley Rectory).

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“I’m not even sure I’d call it horror. However, if you’re in the mood for something risky and experimental, give it a try. It’s well-crafted, with some impressive visuals despite the low-budget and a terrific score by Wheatley regular Clint Mansel. The cast, which is really just a quartet, are all excellent, and the film itself, while it doesn’t always work, is nonetheless consistently interesting.” Arrow in the Head

“Derivative as it may be at times (it’s absolutely a pastiche of its genre forebears), there’s a vagabond charm to getting away with filming a neat little thriller like this in quarantine […] While the results don’t quite tap into our psychological anxieties about the pandemic, there’s something to the idea that the earth is rebelling against us, and that we need to either adapt or die.” Awards Watch

” …the filmmaker finds inspiration from nature, crafting a wild, hallucinogenic descent into abject terror, giving hints at a folk horror mythology and references to witchcraft. For fans of his earlier genre work, In the Earth marks a welcome return to form. It might feel a bit too familiar to A Field in England and raises more questions than it answers, but it’s a riveting trip nonetheless.” Bloody Disgusting

In the Earth is filled with many WTF moments that had me baffled yet needing more. The film is very disorienting and had me lost on several occasions and that’s what made it so engaging. Definitely a tad too long but this is a return to form for Ben Wheatley!” Charlie McGivern

“A wholly unsettling and slightly off-putting experience (which I mean as a compliment) […] In the Earth works as well as it does due to a quartet of fearless performances from its ensemble, particularly Shearsmith, whose activities in the film really got under my skin at times, and elevated the undercurrent of tension and paranoia felt throughout the story to new heights…” Daily Dead

” …Ben Wheatley’s little quickie is a tedious walk in the woods, a ho-hum affair featuring dull characters and a succession of unpleasant injuries. Imagination and surprise are in short supply.” Deadline

“Movies like Annihilation and Hereditary might come to mind while watching In the Earth, which manages to blend folk horror and eco-horror (and, in certain moments, body horror and avant-garde cinema) in a way that resonates with our own world. Covid-19 has at times felt like part of some grander revenge plan that nature’s been waiting to spring on humanity for some time, and In the Earth’s exploration of just how aware nature really is couldn’t feel more timely, or more terrifying.” Gizmodo

” …the story has too little consistent logic and the characters too little depth to provide a hook. Instead, it becomes a numbing bore, teasing the viewer by withholding details as to whether the menace is supernatural or human in the form of off-the-grid nutjobs, to the point where you no longer care.” The Hollywood Reporter

“While the script is a bit redundant, and the pacing a little plodding at times, we still get an unnerving yarn that blends ancient rites, modern science, and what it may have to do with our current situation. This was an engaging horror film with some hefty ideas and fine craftsmanship. I really can’t say enough about Nick Gillespie‘s jaw-dropping photography.” Horror Buzz

“A third act pivot away from survival horror and toward the thought-collapsing psychedelia of A Field in England might dampen the fun of Wheatley’s medieval lore and distract from the interpersonal dynamics that make the movie feel less threadbare than it must have been on the page, but this thing only grows more hypnotic as it veers into violent abstraction.” IndieWire

In terms of plot and characters and story, I wasn’t really that invested or engaged by any of these things. And on that front, it was a bit poor. However, in terms of the totally bonkers, crazy, loud, flashy bits, I was all for it! Absolutely loved the intense, psychedelic visuals and cinematography and the editing. Props to Clint Mansell’s score and Reece Shearsmith for being great.” Jed Wagman

“This film will frustrate everyone wanting a straight-forward narrative because In the Earth is more of a philosophical journey ripe with beauty and horror than a more grounded and typical tale. A few branches could be trimmed down and both the folklore and characters could be expanded upon for a richer story, but In the Earth is an intriguing film that will leave you pondering questions of our connection to everything around us long after the credits roll.” Killer Horror Critic

” …Ben Wheatley’s film is surrounded by an eerie, mysterious environment that simply fails to transmit anything slightly captivating or significant to the audience. Its slow pacing and ambiguous development leave tons of questions unanswered, but it’s the lack of emotional investment in both the story and the characters that ultimately damage the movie.” MSB Reviews

“Amplified by Clint Mansell’s synthesizing score that almost puts Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow to shame, In the Earth is survivalist horror with a twist so edgy, M. Night Shyamalan might try to knock it off. Sure, the first thirty minutes takes its sweet time to get the momentum going, but once the arrows start flying and the trees start singing, all bets are off.” The Only Critic

” …this messy, woodland thriller set after multiple waves of a viral outbreak can’t sustain itself beyond the opening moments, becoming a jumbled mass of random images by its thankful conclusion […] In the Earth looks great, with Wheatley doing what he does best by doing a lot with limited resources.” Punch Drunk Critics

“By the time Wheatley, who also edited, concludes with a full-on eye-searing weird-out, it’s hard not to feel that he is retreading old ground – that this isn’t a more arboreally lavish A Field in England 2.0. Whatever the visual payoff, the ending fails to satisfy in straighter narrative terms. Amid a mass of thematic clutter – baleful monoliths, ringworm scars, ancient grimoires, ritual art photography – it just seems as if Wheatley has lost track of the story, in an extreme case of not seeing the wood for the trees.” Screen Daily

“Wheatley and his collaborators have produced something that some of us thought would be impossible: an outrageously entertaining film that feels utterly rooted in the bleak era in which it was made. Lockdown project or not, it’s a milestone.” The Telegraph

“Experimental editing, irritating strobe lighting, a discordant soundscape, creepy symbols, ritual stones, literal stick men, and a psychedelic mist are just some of the grab bag of ingredients deployed for a mind-scrambling crescendo that doesn’t so much put a pin in the story as pop it. Oddly enough, a more grounded finale may have served the film better.” Total Film

“It’s all rather disappointing in the end, although Wheatley does orchestrate an elaborate ayahuasca-esque meltdown as the film’s climax — the maxi version of that surreal dream sequence he teased in “Rebecca.” The film feels right in line with the kind of mayhem that Wheatley has been serving up his entire career…” Variety

“Sure, Wheatley’s blend of assaultive high-tech gadgetry and supernatural silliness does occasional reach a kind of glorious insanity – a kind of “don’t mess with Mother Nature” on steroids – but it does so without ever becoming satisfying […] it eventually settles for being stylish, cringe-inducing, occasionally scary and a little annoying.” The Wrap

Technical details:

106 minutes

Teaser trailer:

YouTube reviews: