This is the latest from director Ben Wheatley. Mr Wheatley was responsible for directing last year’s Rebecca which was panned by most critics but which was actually one of my personal favourites for the year. With this latest offering, Ben has gone back to his roots in a manner of speaking. Meaning he is tackling the horror genre once again as he had been doing so in the earlier years of his career (A Field in England, The ABC’s of Death, and Kill List).
In The Earth was something that Ben Wheatley wrote and directed during the pandemic. It has a low budget independent arthouse movie feel to it as its storyline is focus on just a few characters and the entire movie takes place in one location, namely deep in the forest. There is minimal use of CGI and little graphic violence. It is not the type of horror that needs to make you jump every few minutes or use buckets of blood and gore to keep you entertained. Instead, In The Earth has a pretty weird storyline that involves scientists doing research in the forest who stumble upon an ancient forest spirit, whom they try to communicate with. In other words, attempt a breakthrough to be able to communicate with nature … earth!
The pace of the story is slow and I have to admit, the main characters are rather uninteresting. Nevertheless, Ben Wheatley’s visual and audio atmosphere of the forest is engulfing and you are drawn in to the weird goings. The final act and conclusion is a bit abstract which may annoy some viewers. There is lots of use of strobing lights and weird sounds which may again, be disagreeable to some viewers. It provide a hypnotic and hallucinating impact on what the characters are experiencing. Something that they are unable to come to terms with themselves. It is a bold and risky move taken by Wheatley to leave its ending a bit open ended. I am not sure but I suppose this is movie is like an abstract statement about nature reacting and fighting back against earth’s progressive destruction by mankind.
In The Earth‘s originality and unorthodox style makes this an interesting watch. I am however, less enthusiastic about its overall story, characters, and ambivalent ending which left many questions unanswered.