Director Ben Wheatley follows up his remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca with the horror film In the Earth from Neon Pictures. As the world searches for a cure to a fatal virus, a scientist and a park scout venture deep into the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness, as the forest comes to life around them.
Joel Fry portrays the scientist Martin Lowery, while Ellora Torchia portrays park scout Alma. Martin has just gotten over a case of ringworm and has decided to seek out a former colleague and ex-girlfriend Oliva (Hayley Squires). Before they fell out, Martin and Oliva were researching mycorrhiza, a mutual symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant.
Naturally, since In the Earth takes place in the woods, Martin and Alma are warned of some mysterious forces and advised against going into the woods. In this case, the mystery is Parnag Fegg, a geriatric, ghoulish-looking nature entity that locals seem to fear. Of course, Martin and Alma’s ignore the warnings and fail Horror 101.
A series of events that include stolen boots and an attack by something lead Martin and Alma to crossing paths with Zach (Reece Shearsmith). To their surprise, Zach has supplies that will assist Martin and Alma. Of course, Zach is not who he seems, and when Martin does eventually reunite with Oliva, things go awry.
I am a firm believer that, like comedy, the horror genre is subjective. For the most part, I do not mind indie horror films and will usually stick it out until the end for their resolution. Much to my dismay, In the Earth may just end up in my year’s ten worst. Once Martin mentioned that he had ringworm, I thought director Ben Wheatley would take the film down a route of Martin stuck between life and death. While I can commend Wheatley for not taking that route, I still have no idea what In the Earth was actually about.
Perhaps this was due to the film’s off-putting pace and tepid performances. No one in the cast delivers a solid acting job. This may align with the fact that In the Earth was written and directed in only 15 days. It is almost as if Ben Wheatley just let his cast go off-script because the film did not gel at all. One notable scene in the film involving two characters and a gruesome toe amputation made me cringe, but outside of that, there was not too much I was fond of in the film.
I am sure there is an audience for In the Earth; however, the film just was not my cup of tea.
Final Grade: D-