Movie Review: ‘In the Earth’
Ben Wheatley’s In the ground is not the first film inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and it certainly won’t be the last, but it is in a privileged position as one of the first horror films to explore the effects of the global pandemic deadly while we are still experiencing it. More than just an exploitative attempt to strike while the cultural benchmark is still hot, the story uses the context of a virulent disease as a springboard to probe the depths of insanity that people can be driven to in their research. erroneous remedy. Weaving together standard horror tropes, pseudo-science and folktales, In the ground takes an overall moment and distills it on a personal level as four people walk through the woods and test exactly the graphic abuse that a single human foot can endure.
Scientist Martin Lowery (Joel Fry) is sent to a small park that has been converted into a government research station. Alongside ranger Alma (Ellora Torchia), he sets out in search of a remote camp where Dr. Wendel (Hayley Squires) is experimenting in the hopes of finding the source of a deadly virus. Already the worst nightmare of the millennium, Dr. Wendel’s base can only be reached by walking for several days through a densely wooded forest with no cell reception and eerie nighttime soundscapes reminiscent of a tortured ostrich. A few days after the start of their trip, the couple are assaulted by an invisible character who beats them mercilessly and steals their shoes. They do their best to persevere, but it doesn’t take long before Martin cuts his foot so badly that he’s barely able to stand.
Fortunately, they stumble upon a reclusive camper named Zach (Reece Shearsmith) who leads them to a tarp covered “workshop” that almost certainly led an old life of a weed nursery, where he offers them all kinds of hospitality, including included cool shoes, drinks, and even surgery without anesthesia for Martin’s foot. Sadly, it turns out that the drinks are fortified, and Zach does little to dissuade the impression that he might be Robert Plant and Billy Connolly’s child-loving child by choosing the most socially inappropriate time to release a guitar so that he can put his victims to sleep. a good kidnapping stupor. Once they’re completely drugged and tied up, Zach sets out to make things even more uncomfortable by dressing his new friends in makeshift tarp outfits and laying their corpse-like bodies on the floor for a series of photos. spooky insta aimed at appeasing an invisible forest. spirit named Parnag Fegg. Martin and Alma eventually manage to break free, but not before Zach uses an ax to perform a more impromptu surgery on Martin’s foot.
Unusually enough for a horror movie, it wasn’t until the duo escaped the ax maniac that things started to get really weird. When they manage to find Dr. Wendel, she has filled the woods with a surround sound setup generating eerie tones as part of a “science” experiment based on instructions she found carved into a rock. She also drops the bombshell that Zach is her ex-husband before demonstrating the family resemblance by carrying out her own unwanted surgery at Zach’s feet. While much of their time spent with Dr Wendel is spent in tedious exhibition, the story manages to capture energy, if not consistency, as it turns into a series of frenzied edits on nature which end up becoming something that vaguely resembles a satisfactory conclusion.
Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars
There are many things to love In the ground. The film offers a truly interesting take on the prevailing zeitgeist of the early 2020s by using the context of the pandemic to explore the extremes of human behavior. Clint Mansell’s heavy synth score is as beautifully overwhelming as Shearsmith’s performance as the deranged Zach, and cinematographer Nick Gillespie does a masterful job of capturing the desolate humidity of the isolated setting. Still, the pace falters pretty badly in the third act, and the supernatural element feels a bit too convoluted and alien to be fully satisfying. Fans of Blood will be disappointed with the parsimony with which it is used, while the more fussy will be disappointed with the gruesome way Martin’s continued foot trauma is portrayed. But despite its flaws, the film is a nice enough mix of spooky vibe and stylized sensory overload to keep your eyes fixed firmly on the screen – except, of course, for the handful of largely orthopedic moments that will require you to cover them.