Whilst fracking is hugely controversial in countries such as the UK, it’s far more prevalent and accepted in America. Indeed, Hydraulic fracturing has been a part of oil and natural gas extraction in the US since the post-war period. Today, it’s a huge industry and, despite record low prices, there’s still a rapacious demand for new land acquisition. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult for families to make a living from traditional farming. These two issues collide in John C. Lyons’ new film Unearth.

Set in rural Pennsylvania, two families live side by side; struggling to make a living from the land. George Lomack (Marc Blucas) tries everything he can to get by but his options are rapidly running out. Whilst his neighbour Kathryn Dolan (Adrienne Barbeau) is determined not to be defeated. As they fight for what’s best for their families, George reluctantly signs his land away to a mining company. After the drilling begins, something deadly is awakened.

There are two issues which underpin Unearth. Firstly, there’s the environmental (known and unknown) costs of fracking. Then there’s the plight of struggling poor communities. John C. Lyons’ does a great job of highlighting them both. However, it’s the tail wagging the dog and the film itself feels more of an afterthought. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well done, but feels as though it’s merely fitting into an important political narrative. More environmental fable than powerful genre storytelling.

Unearth screens at Fantasia Festival.