What I’m Watching: In The Earth (2021)

I watched In The Earth (2021 Dir. Ben Wheatley)last night, a film entirely written rehearsed and filmed during the lockdown. It’s genre brilliance lies in simultaneously being a folk-horror and a science fiction, so it was right up my street (Some of you more venerable UK Salonites may recall The Stone Tapes and Children Of The Stones).

A scientist goes into a forest near Bristol where a fungal complex seems to interlink all the trees. The locals tell tales of a witch/bogeyman haunting the place. I won’t say anymore.

The naturalistic acting and atmospheric cinematography are excellent, the forest’s menace being one of the main characters. Interestingly, there’s not really a metaphor for COVID in this film so much as the mental space lockdown created when we were taken out of our accepted normality and could do nothing but look at life anew.

The film, I sensed, fears people, especially people in power, having a flattened, simplistic view of issues that are both far wider and more nuanced. At one point I even sensed some brexit metaphor but, in truth, this obtuse horror movie could invite a lot of readings.Definitely recommend if you like suspenseful, atmospheric horror. There’s laughs too, I should add. Ben Wheatley is very good at mixing up his tones.

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