In The Earth (2021) - 5/10
I’m here for Reece Shearsmith… and Joel Fry… plus Ben Wheatley’s at the helm. It sounds like it could be good. It’s got some lovely opening shots that literally set the traps and I’m immediately sold on the score from Clint Mansell. It also feels rather relevant to 2021. There’s a virus you see. Martin (Fry), a scientist looking at growing crops finds himself out at a remote holiday camp turned research base in the English countryside, surrounded by forests and local myths. One being a freaky folklore witch. The bit of land Martin is out to study and his colleague whose already out there is a two day trek into the forest, no GPS, just his guide for company. Enter Alma (Ellora Torchia), who’s rather brilliant, navigating for Martin through the opening act. It’s a bit Blair Witchy, but colder looking, wet and more psychedelic. The location is a character all of its own and is used really well. It sets a nice eerie tone, Wheatley allowing the tension of the environment to build in our minds as the sound department have a field day with night time noises and creaking trees. The trek starts well enough until the pair are attacked in their tents and wake up minus all their kit and their shoes. Both shaken and Martin soon bleeding, they bump into Zach (Shearsmith). He’s a survivalist, living alone in a large camp. Long straggly hair and an air of menace. I’m a little loathed to give too much away, but Zach has a mission, an obsession born of the local lore and manifest in trapping and controlling Martin and Alma. In short he’s nuts. As I’m sure many of us can now attest, isolation isn’t good for people. What follows slowly unravels the premise that was set out at the start, as we descend into a hostage plot with a fair bit of torture porn. It’s not without its moments though and there are some really lovely scenes… although lovely might not be the word. Despite the cast, sound and cinematography all being good it falls short, getting bogged down in exposition to hold it together. It’s a bit of a shame really as there’s some nice ideas, neat cinematic treats and does come close to redemption in a gripping hallucinogenic rave nightmare finale. I know this seems like damning praise, but the end titles, I think by Richard Wells, really are quite spectacular and go on I’ll say it, they’re my favourite part of this film.