In The Earth, directed by Ben Wheatley is a Sci-fi horror released in 2021. Set in a world that is suffering from a pandemic (much like reality back in the day), the film can best be described as a trippy cautionary tale about man and nature.
It revolves around a scientific expedition by Dr. Martin and Dr. Alma, as they traverse the unusually fertile forest near Bristol. Martin is sent there by the government to work particularly on the research started by his ex-partner and colleague Dr. Olivia. Her site is what they look to find when they walk into the forest.
Things take a turn for the sinister when, after a setback, they meet Zach, a seemingly suspicious man who keeps them hostage for a particular purpose beyond their wildest dreams. The purpose? You'll have to watch to find out.
I'd say this is definitely an interesting film. Despite being slow for a few moments, the plot of the film is very tight and well-structured with pace. It starts getting interesting when Martin and Alma, during their hike to Olivia's site, get ravaged by an unknown entity. Exhausted, wounded, and out of supplies they meet Zach. As mentioned, Zach keeps them hostage and as things unfold from there the film keeps pushing into creepy territory. Zach's character keeps you glued onto the screen as you wait and watch for his next move.
For me, the sci-fi genre isn't really a favorite as often any supernatural occurrence in the film is dismissed under the purview of science making it uninteresting and not as fun. This film doesn't deal with that hiccup as it lets the supernatural elements shine very well.
At the beginning of the film for example, when Martin is at the outpost with other scientists, he notices a rather odd painting. The painting displays a figure known as the Parnag Fegg. The spirit of the forest according to the local folklore. It is a good foreshadowing that really sets the tone of the film.
The film reminded me of 10 Cloverfield Lane for a little while during the interactions between Martin, Alma, and Zach. In other places, it reminded me of a previous film I reviewed called "The Womb". It is definitely good in horror and creeps with its eccentric characters and dark themes about nature. The dialogues are well delivered and the acting feels quite decent. The best thing about the film however overall is the way it is shot and how it looks. Despite a low budget supposedly, the film feels high in production value. It is visually appealing despite a little muted color palette, with colder themes. The imagery that director Ben Wheatley churns out is very symbolic.
The characters aren't really very interesting other than Zach and Olivia during their ramblings. I was hooked though, wondering what would happen next. It has good lore that you might want to read up on after the film, exploring what the film's message truly was.
But, despite all the things the film does well, I feel like the ending and the main message of the film don't really come off as well as the director would've hoped. It isn't for every audience as there are a lot of graphic and creepy visuals sprinkled throughout the entirety of the film. Not all of it works either to be quite honest. It isn't gonna be the most memorable experience as it is derivative of films with similar themes but then I'd say it is still worth at least one watch if you're a fan of creepy horrors.
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