I don’t have any wisdom to share upfront or witty repartee to start this off, I’m just gonna let this flow: “In The Earth” isn’t a potential contender for best horror film of the year and I can’t even at least grace it by having it be an honorable mention of mine.
As one of the years biggest poster child’s of style over substance, this pseudoscientific art movie throws some horror and absurdity in with substances that don’t really click.
Let it be known that the performers did the best they could with the material, Joel Fry and Ellora Torchia especially. Reece Shearsmith is exceptionally creepy and everyone else involved was fine; just fine.
Most of the characters however don’t have any interesting banner between them despite their solid outings as performers and they rarely
So the instant the film starts, you can tell that something is just off…..for there is an air of mystery having befell the confines of the atmosphere and setting, allowing uneasiness to set in around the traditionally lavish landscapes and vegetative forest grounds. The forests feel outlandish and out of order and it works within the context of a project like this meant to be ambitious.
You can’t convince me it didn’t resemble an amped up episode of the X-Files with a little bit of Alex Garlands Annihilation thrown in just a little bit now, can you?
While not as crisply organized or even polished as other photography/cinematography shots, it does succeed in winding up its audience and providing enough of that unnatural discordant energy to perk your interests. The editing however doesn’t follow that silver lining in reaching a fascinating gripping capacity that the cinematography boasted; hell, the EMPTY MAN did it better.
Not to say it was a nuisance though. The strobe lighting was a rather unpleasant trigger for potential epilepsy and most of Wheatley’s trademark satire and black comedy is absent here. With the material they were working on, I can understand but you could’ve poked a LITTLE bit of fun at it.
But I think what the story gives us is a bleak kaleidoscope on mental horror; a meditation on the residual pandemic fears that haunt and cripple humanity. The film shows the effects of a pandemic on some people and how trying to solve things through science may fall short, how that hopelessness in true belief can certainly rattle your brain. Paranoia, distrust, dread, and isolation from others are all at play here - and quite in line with our current state. And just like the Green Knight, it attempts to piece apart the rough, indifferent complexity of nature which is one of too many things the film tries to tackle.
Taking full advantage of the circumstances surrounding today’s world, I can applaud this eccentric direction Wheatley took.
But that doesn’t mean it was smooth sailing as far as dissecting through most of the filler and pointless admin. Despite the parallels of this backstory and what’s actually happening, this didn’t feel like a film set around a virus meant to be plaguing mankind and the tone set in play BARELY helps identify this as a horror film. On the psychological aspect, it fits well but in the surface for anybody anticipating any actual, you know, physical body horror and jump scares, it’s very lacking.
I’ve seen other reviews saying this was meant to be admirably bizarre and supply a terrifying amplitude to the environment at play. To that I say, congratulations, you pulled me in and weirded me out.
But man, did the pacing have to plod on and on and on just to even get to that point? I had to stop few separate times just to collect myself because the tonal dissonance played hand-in-hand with unbearably slow this was, especially with this much going on. I’m usually a fan of slow burn films; this was not it for me.
From a technical standpoint, that’s what really really makes this movie: just a moment to moment sensory experience. Everything else in comparison can only follow up so well with the only exception being the acting and what I thought the plot was trying to tell me.