In the Earth Unclassified 18+
Viewer advice: Contains stroboscopic imagery
In a forest in England, Ben Wheatley builds the folk horror of your most feverish pandemic nightmares.
After months of lockdown, agricultural scientist Dr Martin Lowery risks venturing outside to search for his mentor, Dr Olivia Wendle, who’s been incommunicado for weeks. Olivia has been studying the mycorrhizal network – the symbiotic, subterranean matrix connecting plants and fungi – at a research facility deep in the woods, and it’ll take him two days by foot to reach her. Park ranger Alma is tasked with guiding Martin, but what starts out as a routine trek soon turns into a head-trip journey into malevolent territory.
Conceived during last year’s lockdown, MIFF regular Ben Wheatley’s cinematic response to COVID is not quite a ‘COVID film’ – while it’s set in an eerily familiar virus-ravaged world, it also ratchets up the eco horror among a psychotropic ‘wood wide web’ deep in the soil. Like his earlier Kill List (MIFF 2011) and A Field in England (MIFF 2013), In the Earth has all the ingredients of a classic Wheatley joint. And, with Clint Mansell’s unnerving score and Nick Gillespie’s colour-drenched widescreen cinematography building some nerve-shredding tension, this atmospheric and at times gruesomely deranged hallucination of a film succeeds in mixing pandemic anxiety with techno-occult weirdness.
“An outrageously entertaining folk horror freak-out for the COVID age … Wheatley’s extraordinary new film refracts the isolation, confusion and strangeness of the past 11 months through his distinctive lens.” – The Telegraph
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