IN THE EARTH (2021) Reviews [29] and overview

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In the Earth is a 2021 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). Produced by Andrew Starke [as Andy Starke] (Possessor; In Fabric; The Greasy Strangler; Zibahkhana).

The movie stars Joel Fry (Silent Night; Cordelia), Ellora Torchia (Midsommar), Hayley Squires and Reece Shearsmith (Borley Rectory).

The synth soundtrack score was composed by Clint Mansell (Stoker; Black Swan; Wind Chill; Doom).

“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

”  …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

” …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

“Themes of nature-vs.-technology are also here, and still relevant. In the end, though, the shocks and gore tend to outweigh whatever else Wheatley was trying, but In the Earth is still impressive enough to make it worth a look for brave viewers.” Combustible Celluloid

” …doesn’t look like inaccessible horror scape, but more like a suburban park that I might visit on the weekends. It all feels like they are playing some extreme game of make-believe, and despite the visuals and sound effects trying to blind and deafen me into feeling a sense of dread, the horror never really seeps through to the viewer.” Cultured Vultures

“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 […] 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

“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.” Jed Wagman

“This film will frustrate everyone wanting a straightforward 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…” 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

“Wheatley’s writing isn’t perfect, I think the film was a tad too long and did lose its way a bit in the second act, but that doesn’t take away from what he did with the film as a whole. The final act takes a turn for the wild and brings a very claustrophobic sequence that I wish I would have been able to see in theaters.” Music City Drive-In

“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.” 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

In the Earth seems to be more concerned with sights, sounds and ideas more than solid plotting. The sense of confusion being an intentional reflection of the character’s state of mind. And on that level, it certainly succeeds […] But if you need to have all the answers and everything explained by the time the credits roll you may feel frustrated. While I think Wheatley was a little too vague in a couple of places, overall I found it an enjoyable exercise in folk horror weirdness.” Voices from the Balcony

“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

In the Earth premiered at the virtual Sundance festival in January 2021.

In the USA, Neon will release In the Earth theatrically on April 30th 2021.

Cast and characters:
Joel Fry … Martin Lowery
Reece Shearsmith … Zach
Hayley Squires … Olivia Wendle
Ellora Torchia … Alma
John Hollingworth … James
Mark Monero … Frank

Technical details:
106 minutes

Teaser trailer:



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