With films like Kill List, High-Rise, and Free Fire, Ben Wheatley has shown an ability to tell stories that are complex, intense, and demand your full attention to truly appreciate them. His latest film, In the Earth, fits in that mould too, except it draws its scares from a whole new place. Let’s just face facts: Wheatley wants to mess you up.
In the Earth premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and this very website called it “the first great horror movie of 2021.” That’s a quote you’ll see pop up in the film’s first trailer, which is best experienced with as little context as possible.
In the Earth is set in an undefined, vaguely post-apocalyptic future where a scientist (Joel Fry) must find an old colleague who’s MIA out in the woods. He and a guide (Ellora Torchia) set out to find her and things don’t go as planned.
That’s a very basic premise for not just this movie, but many movies, and it makes it sound there could be slashers, zombies, or any number of other horrible antagonists awaiting the characters. What makes In the Earth so good is that it knows you’re expecting something dreadful, and it dangles that over your head, slowly revealing something far more terrifying. Does it have to do with nature? Yes. Is it that simple? Of course not.
Full disclosure here though. That trailer is dynamite but it’s much more kinetic than the film itself. The film itself is methodical and moody with the occasional shot of adrenaline that really makes an impact. So imagine all the wild imagery in that trailer spread out more, and then begin to fill in the blanks.
Basically, if you like being scared and challenged, both while on the edge of your seat, mark April 23 down on your calendar. That’s when In the Earth will be released in the U.S. (Stay tuned for an Australian release date.)