REVIEW: Horror film In the Earth falls short in scaring its audience

 In the Earth is now available to stream on Netflix.

Photo from Wikipedia, property of Netflix

In the Earth is now available to stream on Netflix.

Angelica Cervantes, Staff Writer

This review may contain spoilers. 

Ben Wheatley’s new film, In the Earth (2021) blends both fictional and scientific ideologies. 

The story centers around Dr. Martin Lowery (Joel Fry) and Zach (Reece Shearsmith). Both the scientist and park scout are seemingly innocent comprehensions of folklore characters. The film takes place during a pandemic, causing Dr. Lowery and Zach to go into the dark woods in hopes of finding a cure.

However, there is a dark tale about a spirit that lives within the forest. The scientist and park scout are quite skeptical about this belief, but they come across other characters who dangerously hang their loyalty to this dark spirit. 

Rather than the dark spirit being a menacing being, the believers seem to be more threatening than the source of action. Wheatley seems to be telling his audience that some of the most dangerous creatures are humans themselves and the extreme ideologies they practice that can be potentially harmful.

This folk-horror film brilliantly mirrors the real pandemic that is going on around the world by playing upon that fear of devastation and need for survival. Though the film takes a sharp turn from COVID-19, it still displays the familiar elements of masks and consistent disinfection throughout like our current reality.

The film does provide squeamish moments of gore, sustained suspense and awkward humor to push the fear onto the audience. It also uses a unique style of editing that mixes flashing of lights and bold mechanic sounds. These techniques create a feeling of apprehension in the more intense scenes of the film. 

The beginning of the film features a flash warning label for viewers, as there are flashing lights throughout. Though this was something quite different from most films, it became overbearing at times. The constant use of light and loud sounds was jarring, taking the audience out of the film. Though it was a bold and artistic move by the director, it may deter some viewers from enjoying the film.  

In the Earth has a great concept and attempts to deliver a profound message, but it does not accomplish this through its execution. It demands its viewers to sit through a show of flashing lights and loud sounds that completely block out the visual understanding of the film. 

If you are a fan of Wheatley’s previous filmography, you may appreciate the film. Unfortunately, In the Earth has a weak representation of the horror film genre and does not create a lasting sense of fear or disturbance even after watching it. 

Angelica Cervantes is a recent transfer to CSUSM and is now a staff writer for The Cougar Chronicle. She enjoys writing her own stories as well as watching various types of films. She aspires to become a screenwriter and to have an influence in cinema.

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos