Sundance Review: In the Earth

When Ben Wheatley first arrived on the scene, he was a breath of fresh air. Down Terrace passed most people by at the time but Kill List became an instant cult sensation. The Billericay native followed this success up with the hilarious and brilliant Sightseers. However, the rather strange release of A Field in England didn’t really work. Since then, he’s been making much bigger budget but ultimately disappointing films. Thankfully, In the Earth is a return to form.

In the midst of a deadly pandemic, Dr. Martin Lowery (Joel Fry) embarks on a journey to reach a research hub deep in the Arboreal Forest. It’s a two-day trek from the waystation but he’s desperate to join up with Dr. Olivia Wendle (Hayley Squires), a former colleague who is carrying out cutting-edge research. He’s accompanied by Alma (Ellora Torchia), a park ranger, but after being ambushed on the way they soon realise something is badly wrong.

In the Earth uses its setting brilliantly to create a world which is entirely familiar yet almost otherworldly. Although I’m not convinced by Squires’ accent, the cast is impressive. However, it’s Reece Shearsmith who steals the show as the unpredictable Zach. Wheatley delves deep into myth, melding legend with modern science. The natural world providing the petri dish for this cleverly contained sci-fi horror. In the Earth is an eco-horror with a bloody edge.

In the Earth screens at Sundance Film Festival.

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