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In the Earth Review | Sundance Film Festival

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Ben Wheatley returns to form in a sci-fi horror about a deadly virus that’s ravaged the earth. If you saw Songbird– another film made during the pandemic about a virus- you might be a little put off but Wheatley has managed to make a film that is very intriguing, and it goes back to the sort of tone and style that Wheatley fans really love. After a very big misfire with last year’s Rebecca adaptation, it seems that In the Earth is definitely a return to form for Wheatley.

Dr. Martin Lowery, played by Joel Fry has to embark on a journey through the virus-ridden world to reach a research hub hidden deep in the Arboreal Forest. He’s not alone as he’s guided by park scout Alma (Ellora Torchia), however things take a much darker turn when they encounter Zach- played remarkably by Reece Shearsmith. They don’t know much about Zach and his intentions aren’t immediately clear to them but soon they begin to get a scared.

Wheatley has created an absolutely bonkers, loud, crazy, flashy film that goes completely nuts at times but I really liked it. I wasn’t a fan of his other loud, flashy film High Rise back in 2014 to the point that I didn’t even make it to the end of the film but there was just something about In the Earth that had me captivated. The film had remarkable cinematography and I thought it was really well edited, creating a really unique viewing experience.

In the Earth is a film that’s probably going to be quite divisive. It seems to have two fairly different halves to the film and some people will prefer the first half, others the second. Yet I thought the second half truly embraced the crazy nature of it and went all out and I much preferred that to the slower going first half that was setting up the rest of the film.

My biggest gripe about the film though is that I was never truly invested in the story or the characters. And because of this, the first half just felt a little too slow going to me and I didn’t really care for it too much. However, it was in the second half of the film when the strobe lighting and loud noises came in that completely changed my mind. It’s a film that would be great to see in a cinema with a great surround sound system and there are a few scenes in this film that just look and sound absolutely amazing and it’s totally different to anything else I’ve seen at Sundance so far.

Some might suggest that now isn’t the best time to release a film about a virus but Wheatley argues that he wanted to make a film that was “contextualised in the moment” and to take “the moment that we’re living in and puts it into a genre” and that’s exactly what he’s done as he’s turned a film about a deadly virus into a unnerving horror film.

In the Earth has a really good unnerving synth score from Clint Mansell and Reece Shearsmith gives a great performance as the unhinged Zach and all this, together with the strobe lighting and blaring noises, the film is one crazy psychedelic ride full of colour and clamour.

In the Earth will divide lots of viewers and it’s even divided me too. On the one hand, the plot and the characters were never that engaging but on the other hand as an experience, Wheatley has made a film that you can’t tear your eyes away from, even when it gets particularly gruesome.

★★★☆☆

In the Earth premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the Premieres section.

FILM RATING
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HORROR

Trap | Official Trailer

A father and teen daughter attend a pop concert, where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.

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Genre:

Crime, Horror, Mystery

Release Date:

August 9, 2024

Director:

M. Night Shyamalan

Cast:

Josh Hartnett, Hayley Mills, Marnie McPhail

Plot Summary:

A father and teen daughter attend a pop concert, where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.

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HORROR

Speak No Evil | Official Trailer

A family invited to spend a weekend in an idyllic country house, goes from a dream vacation to a psychological nightmare.

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Speak no Evil [credit: Universal Pictures]

Genre:

Drama, Horror, Thriller

Release Date:

September 13, 2024

Director:

James Watkins

Cast:

James McAvoy, Aisling Franciosi, Dan Hough

Plot Summary:

A family invited to spend a weekend in an idyllic country house, goes from a dream vacation to a psychological nightmare.

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HORROR

MaXXXine | Official Trailer – A24

In 1980s Hollywood, adult film star and aspiring actress Maxine Minx finally gets her big break. But as a mysterious killer stalks the starlets of Hollywood, a trail of blood threatens to reveal her sinister past.

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MaXXXine [credit: A24]

Genre:

Horror

Release Date:

July 5, 2024

Director:

Ti West

Cast:

Giancarlo Esposito, Mia Goth, Michelle Monaghan

Plot Summary:

In 1980s Hollywood, adult film star and aspiring actress Maxine Minx finally gets her big break. But as a mysterious killer stalks the starlets of Hollywood, a trail of blood threatens to reveal her sinister past.

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