Review: ‘In The Earth’ ventures into the woods and the darkness

Film from this time period is going to be interesting. Much like the years after wars or the September 11th attacks, the ongoing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic can’t not have an impact on the art we produce. Some of that is going to be in the form of movies about viruses. Others, like this one, are going to be about how scary is can be to go outside and see people again.

As the film starts, Martin Lowry (Game of Thrones alum Joel Fry) arrives at a remote research station at the edge of a large forest. He is there to bring an experiment to his mentor, Dr Wendle (Hayley Squires), to help the research she is doing on the relationship between the plants in the forest. Martin is poked, prodded, and tested. The world is sick; you see, a pandemic has gripped the entire world, including his family back in the city.

Dr Wendle’s camp is two days away on foot, and his guide is Alma (Ellora Torchia, of Midsommar). As they head into the forest, things start to go awry nearly immediately; from Martin revealing that he is actually not in shape for this sort of hike to the abandoned and destroyed family campsite they find until they finally meet Zach (Reece Shearsmith), a hermit who has been living in the woods.

It’s about here that things start to go off the rails. No one in this film is exactly who they appear to be, and the film capitalizes on the fact that on the heels of being stuck inside for a year, other people can be pretty scary. Ben Wheatly isn’t exactly known for his mainstream projects, and this one most definitely is not one of those. As the film progresses, things get grisly quickly but also funny. Shearsmith, in particular, has some excellent line deliveries that are equal parts terrifying and hilarious, whether he’s offering a cup of tea or talking about how sharp his axe is.

Once the characters arrive in the third act things take a turn away toward being something trippier and weirder than the first two acts would have you expect, and it’s here that the film might lose some of you. If this kind of thing is your bag then you are going to be greatly rewarded though, and the performances, scares, and gore effects through the end are great.

Most of the cinema of this pandemic so far has been films restructuring themselves to single rooms or limited shoots. This is true of In The Earth as well, but rather than long monologues it elects to remind us that the world outside is scary no matter what.

In The Earth is now available on demand.


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