In the Earth (2021)

In the Earth
Director: Ben Wheatley
Writer: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires, John Hollingworth, Mark Monero
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2021

In the middle of a global pandemic, Martin (Joel Fry) arrives in a nature reserve to join his colleague Olivia (Hayley Squires) in research. Park ranger Alma (Ellora Torchia) is supposed to lead him to the scientist’s camp in the woods. As they walk, Alma realizes, though, that Martin has a bit more than a professional connection to Olivia. Before they arrive at the camp, Martin and Olivia get attacked, though. There is generally something strange going on in this forest.

I have written it before, I will write it again: Ben Wheatley and me is a combination that just doesn’t work. That’s also true for In the Earth that I found a little muddled at best, and boring at worst.

The film poster showing an obelisk-like boulder with a round hole at the top in the forest under a starry sky.

When I saw in the program that there was a new Wheatley film, I was hesitant about watching it at all. If the schedule had been a little different, I would have skipped it (the film of his I liked best so far is High-Rise which I found at least interesting, everything else didn’t work for me at all). But there it was, right in the middle of two films I wanted to see and the comfort of not zipping from cinema to cinema finally won out for me.

That is a lenghty introduction to say that In the Earth didn’t have the best cards to win me over, and if you enjoyed the Wheatley movies so far, you may not want to give any consideration to my opinion and go for it regardless. But if you’re similarly (not) taken with Wheatley’s films as I am, In the Earth probably won’t win you over either.

Zach (Reece Shearsmith) with long hair and a beard, wearing a beanie.

I found the world-building of the film a little shoddy, especially the pandemic that goes on in the world and that, apart from a bit of disinfecting (the most lackluster disinfection I’ve ever seen, btw) and testing at the beginning, the pandemic doesn’t really seem connected to the rest of the film. It all lacked clarity of (narrative) intent for me. That the film is too long for its own good and rather boring doesn’t help things either.

Ultimately, I just quickly lost interest in the story and in the characters (with the exception of the wonderful Alma), finally falling asleep for a while to save myself from watching more of this confused mess. No regrets (other than having chosen the film in the first place).

Alma (Ellora Torchia) and Martin (Joel Fry) lying on the forest floor, Alma clutching her head.

Summarizing: didn’t get me on board.

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