Dir: Ben Wheatley. Starring: Joel Fry, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires, Ellora Torchia, John Hollingworth, Mark Monero. Cert 15, 108 mins
Ben Wheatley has found himself back in the embrace of the familiar, following the most bizarre project of his career so far – a Netflix adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, stripped almost entirely of its psychosexual desires and Gothic palette. His latest finds himself on far sturdier ground, harking back to the gnarly violence and wild psychedelics of 2011’s Kill List and 2013’s A Field in England.
In the Earth is a horror film with razor-sharp teeth, even if the relative flimsiness behind that facade betrays its spur-of-the-moment inception. The film was written and shot mid-pandemic, over the course of 15 days last August, and is set during a similar (if not the same) outbreak. But this isn’t a cheap exploitation of our current horror. Instead, Wheatley chases the primal fears that it’s brought to the surface – how we all live at nature’s mercy, despite how distant and disconnected we are from its rhythms. In the Earth isn’t set in a hospital or a quarantined home, but in one of the many neglected and mostly forgotten woodlands of Great Britain.
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