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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.

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HORROR

M. Night Shyamalan | Old – Official Trailer

A thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly reducing their entire lives into a single day.

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Genre:

Thriller

Release Date:

July 23, 2021

Director:

M. Night Shyamalan

Cast:

Rufus Sewell, Thomasin McKenzie, Embeth Davidtz, Eliza Scanlen, Abbey Lee, Alex Wolff, Gael García Bernal

Plot Summary:

A thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly reducing their entire lives into a single day.

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HORROR

A Quiet Place Part II | Review

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This review is spoiler-free.

It’s not often that a film comes along and demands to be seen on the big screen, creating a cinematic experience unlike any other and that’s something the Quiet Place films definitely do. I may have learnt this the hard way, by watching the first film on a plane and not really enjoying it, only to re-watch it again at home and really like it. But now, seeing A Quiet Place Part II in an IMAX cinema, having not been in a cinema for months, it is truly a spectacular cinematic event.

After a brief flashback sequence to when the creatures first arrived, A Quiet Place Part II picks up exactly where the first film left off. If you’ve seen the first, you’ll know that it ended in a very exciting position and now we witness the Abbott family struggling to navigate and struggling to survive in the post-apocalyptic world, ravaged by monsters that hunt by sound.

AQP2 is a really tense and engaging thriller film however it never quite reaches the heights that its predecessor did. The first film managed to create a level of immense tension and sustain that pretty much the entire way through the film’s runtime. Here, it feels like there were certain scenes that were very tense and have you squirming in your seat but the bits between these scenes lack the same sense of dread and fear that the first did and in that sense the sequel is not quite as tight as the first.

At just 97 minutes long, it’s only 7 minutes longer than the first but it does feel quite a bit longer. The first film goes by in a flash and it’s over before you know it and whilst AQP2 doesn’t feel overly long, the pacing of it makes you notice the runtime that bit more than the first film.

There are a few very suspenseful and scary moments in it, particularly the opening flashback scene to the Abbott family’s first encounter with the creatures. In fact, even that pesky nail from the first film makes a small cameo here but what stands out so much and what makes it a real ‘cinema film’ is the fantastic sound design. Every single time one of the creatures is even remotely near one of the main characters or any time that the creatures just might be nearby, the sound design completely draws you into it and makes you feel like you’re there and that’s what makes these frightening moments all the more impactful.

A lot of the criticisms and faults with A Quiet Place Part II do largely come from the fact that it’s not as good as the first and it’s weaker by comparison, but it’s still a very smart and entertaining film that provides some genuine chills. The concept of creatures that hunt on sound is such a great idea and it plays out on screen so well. Every single time one of the main characters make even the slightest noise your heart stops and your hold your breath, waiting to see if the creatures are going to show up and if our heroes will meet their untimely demise.

One issue I had with the film was that you could always tell where the next scare was going to come from. The film is by no means predictable, it just sticks to some generic tropes and it’s clear where it’s going. Everyone knows in a scary situation in a horror movie you don’t split up. But that doesn’t stop our protagonists from doing so and it’s small details like that that when they happen you can immediately tell the consequences of certain actions will crop up again a few scenes later. But even when that payoff comes it’s still shocking and the film still delivers in the thrills and scares that you want from a film like this.

A Quiet Place Part II is a riveting and frightening film and whilst it doesn’t quite match the level of tension achieved in the first, it is nonetheless a hugely entertaining film and one that you absolutely must see on the biggest screen you can.

★★★★☆

A Quiet Place Part II is released in UK cinemas on June 3

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A Quiet Place Part 2 – Movie Review

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Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realise the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path. Luke Hearfield gives his thoughts on the long-awaited sequel once again directed by John Krasinski and starring his real life wife Emily Blunt. It’s time to head back to the cinema and enjoy the experience of sitting in a room full of strangers and sharing the collective feeling of deliciously uncomfortable silence.

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