Out in cinemas, this weekend isIn the Earth. In the Earth stars Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Reece Shearsmith, and Hayley Squires. It is a horror based around the world trying to survive a virus that is ravaging the populace. The film opens with Martin (Fry) arriving at a park. From there he will be guided by Alma (Torchia) to a medical base to assist with research about the virus affecting the world.
Since there is no transport available it’s a two-day walk to meet Dr Welding (Squires). Alma is to guide Martin because apparently, this forest in Bristol is quite dangerous. After about a day Martin and Alma are attacked in the middle of the night and lose their rations as well as their shoes. Not long after that Martin seriously cuts himself on the ground. Then two are then found by a stranger in the forest introducing himself as Zach (Shearsmith). From there In the Earth gets a lot weirder but unfortunately stays the same in quality, not particularly good.
Beautiful, eerie, boring
In the Earth is a beautiful film. The scenery is gorgeous and the score at times is equally as unnerving. It matches the location of the film, it is quite rustic and raw. I am saying that the scenery is a beauty to hold because shots linger too long. Director Ben Wheatley makes a lot of visual and audio decisions that both annoy and hurt me, literally. I’ll speak on that later though.
When Zach enters the film events take a turn for the strange. At first he seems okay but it’s not long before both Martin and Alma are his prisoner, because any guy you meet in a forest who has a long beard is definitely up to no good. Through a series of disturbing imagery we’re drip fed information about a strange being within the forest who Zach is trying to talk to. He’s also using Martin and Alma as tools and honestly these scenes were weird but they are ultimately boring. The only element that saves the film is Shearsmith who plays an unnervingly calm individual. He is terrifying and at times weirdly dopey. A scene involving a hatchet comes to mind that skirts the line between scary and silly.
Sadly when the third act kicks in the film falls apart. This may have to do with the wooden acting of Hayley Squires Dr Welding, or the poorly developed Martin who to this point has done nothing in the film. What may have killed this film for me though is Wheatley’s poor use of strobe lighting. During the third act strobe lighting is introduced as a key element in contacting the strange creature in the forest. Thus strobe lighting is used a lot. Wheatley likely wanted to put the audience in a constant state of discomfort. It works too well unfortunately and when Dr Welding combines this with a strange electronic piano which actually hurt me when was listening to it.
A vague and incoherent mess
In the Earth has so little going for it. Characters like Martin are idiotic and useless puppets for the rest of the cast and he is supposedly our lead. Zach is a fascinating antagonist that grounds the film in an authentic horror scenario unfortunately as the plot unfolds he becomes less impressive. The only decent character is Alma and it’s because Torchia is giving it her all in the film. She has easily one of the best scenes in the film and it’s all based on her emotional journey that is the only interesting part of the film.
At the end of the day, I’m not sure I can recommend In the Earth. It started off strong with a slow deliberate pace but devolved into something quite plain and boring.
Stay tuned to Scannain for more news, reviews and interviews.