Directed by Ben Wheatley (Free Fire, Rebecca) and starring Joel Fry (Cruella) and Ellora Torchia (Midsommar), In the Earth see's our two leads venture on a mission through a forest to reach a research hub. After a brutal attack, the line between myth and science blurs as their journey becomes more arduous by the minute. In the Earth is a bold and courageous movie with exceptional visuals and an out-there plot, but unfortunately suffers from being style over substance.
Written by Becca Johnson
Joel Fry and Ella Torchia help keep this movie afloat with their naturalistic and real performances. Horror is clearly a strong suit for Torchia, who previously showcased her talent in Ari Aster’s popular 2019 horror Midsommar. Fry also gave a notable performance, the two having good chemistry and working well together. The side performances were also well-acted if a little forgettable. In the Earth has a small cast, and everyone did their best with what they were given.
In the Earth’s best feature is easily its visuals. The physical setting of the damp, dark forest is immediately immersive, creating an environment that is both claustrophobic and vast. The body horror elements are few and far between, but when they occur, they are executed extremely well. Filtered throughout the run-time are in-camera visuals that are bound to leave the audience in awe, as the movie allows the imagery to tell the story and create a spooky ambience. The characters may not know what is going on, which therefore means the audience may not either, but this is part of In the Earth’s charm and the reason it can often get under the skin.
It’s refreshing to see a movie that feels unique and tries something new, especially for director Ben Wheatley who can often create watches that fail to impress many. However, the story may not be entertaining or gritty enough for a wider audience to sink their teeth into. As astonishing as the visuals are, the script was lacklustre, creating a movie that was often uninteresting and slightly confusing. With its trippy scenes and its Blair Witch-esque trek through the forest, it is plain to see what In the Earth was going for, yet it ended up a relatively dull watch that didn’t quite reach its potential. Though the performances were watchable, the characters themselves were dull and weren’t fleshed out enough for the audience to get behind them.
In the Earth is a bold horror movie that is going to divide its audience. On one hand, it is an incredibly artistic body horror that plays with the viewers mind to create an unsettling experience, using real world events to invoke fear and concern. However, many may see it as a bland style over substance flick that fails to deliver enough horror to satisfy, and an interesting enough plot to hold attention. Though it may not be as action-packed or accessible as Wheatley’s previous attempts, it has to be congratulated for its unique vibe and stunning cinematography.