In The Earth – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Joel Fry, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires, Ellora Torchia, John Hollingworth, Mark Monero
In Irish cinemas June 18th
This horror flick from writer and director Wheatley was completed in just 15 days in August last year. This is astonishing when you consider that the writing of a movie alone can take months if not years. Clearly, he was feeling very inspired. I can’t imagine where he got the idea for a movie set in a world ravaged by a deadly virus where people are struggling to develop a cure or find ways to live in spite of the pandemic!
Of course, this is just a trope to set up the plot. Fry plays Martin Lowery, a scientist sent to a government-controlled outpost to help in the studies and experiments of his former colleague and ex-lover Dr Olivia Wendle (Squires).
He and a colleague Alma (Torchia) leave the safety of the outpost to hike through the woods to Olivia’s camp. Of course, being a horror film you know that this won’t end well and sure enough, they find themselves captured by a crazed man named Zach (Shearsmith) who claims that he needs them to help appease a presence in the woods.
Cue them trying to escape, him becoming even more deranged, them finding Olivia, a super complex back story and more hallucinogens than Jim Morrison consumed in the 60s and you have all the ingredients for an extremely trippy kaleidoscope of horror.
This is very much reliant on tapping into people’s residual fears about the pandemic and what the world will be like when this is all over. However, perhaps because there is some light at the end of the tunnel, it didn’t affect me on that level.
The cast is impressive and even make some of the incredibly dense dialogue sound convincing. And the cinematography is fabulous, although with such a lush setting why wouldn’t it be? But even by horror film standards, this is a bit all over the place. It wants to be all things to all people.
The hikers captured in the woods thing has been done to death. It’s an easy horror plot that doesn’t require much in the way of locations. I don’t know if it’s intentional but I felt there were one or two nods to The Blair Witch Project here.
Wheatley is to be commended for making this in such a tight time frame but I couldn’t help feeling that with a bit more time this would have been a far superior offering. It lacks the heart in mouth moments that you want from a horror film and takes itself extremely seriously. An interesting curiosity to add to the annals of horror history but unlikely to last the test of time.