Nature is a force of evil.
As a deadly virus ravages the world, Dr. Martin Lowery embarks on a mission to reach test site ATU327A, a research hub deep in the Arboreal Forest. The arduous journey, guided by park scout Alma, is set back by a nighttime attack that leaves the two bruised and shoeless. When they run into Zach, a man living off the grid, they gratefully accept his help. Zach’s intentions aren’t exactly what they seem, however, and a path out of the forest and into safety quickly fades as the line between myth and science blurs.
If you enjoy reading my Spoiler-Free reviews, please follow my blog @ https://www.msbreviews.com A festival with so much content must have ambiguous, dark, disturbing films. In The Earth is one of these movies, and it will surely be incredibly divisive. Unfortunately, I don't believe it worked for me. It goes from having a lunatic overly obsessed with some sort of spiritual entity to mixing up actual science using creepy, confusing imagery throughout the runtime. Ben Wheatley is not exactly a stranger when it comes to creating a film with an ominous atmosphere (Rebecca), but in all honesty, I really struggled to connect with a single component of this flick. The entire cast and Clint Mansell's impactful, unforgettable score - which some viewers will remember for the worst reasons - are the only aspects I can truly praise. Joel Fry has to deal with so much physical pain as Martin Lowery that I felt every single grunt and cry for help. However, it's really Mansell's heavy score that profoundly affects the overall viewing. The extreme levels of bass and eerie sounds will severely hurt some people's hearing abilities, but it plays an undeniably important role in the narrative and the viewer's feelings. Sadly, the storytelling is more confusing than intriguing. Not only it becomes more and more complicated to follow and comprehend what's happening, but the ending is far from being satisfactory. There's an evident attempt at a philosophical conclusion based on intricately spiritual beliefs and self-awareness that didn't lead me to discover anything remotely meaningful. Overall, it's just a disappointingly hollow story. In The Earth is one of those movies most viewers will feel uncomfortable watching. From the headache-inducing flickering flashing lights to the extremely confusing, creepy imagery, passing through some shocking visual moments, Ben Wheatley’s film is surrounded by an eerie, mysterious environment that simply fails to transmit anything slightly captivating or significant to the audience. Its slow pacing and ambiguous development leave tons of questions unanswered, but it’s the lack of emotional investment in both the story and the characters that ultimately damage the movie. Despite some terrific performances (namely Joel Fry) and an undeniably impactful score from Clint Mansell, there are no other elements that will make me appreciate this film more. Rating: C-
“In the Earth” is a psychedelic mash-up of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” and “The Blair Witch Project,” and it is unpleasant to suffer through. This disorienting, bloody story about killer plants and a psycho in the woods is more like an experimental film than an enjoyable horror / sci-fi flick. A deadly virus has shut down the world, and Dr. Martin Lowery (Joel Fry) volunteers to work at a research facility deep in the forest. He’s partnered with Alma (Ellora Torchia), and the pair soon venture out into the woods to collect samples. During the night, they are brutally attacked and most of their clothing, equipment, and belongings are trashed. Seeking help, they run into Zach, a strange man who has been living off the grid. When they make it back to the man’s living area, they discover the forest is a much more dangerous place than they anticipated. The first part of the film is interesting, with a nice foreshadowing to the mythical spirit of the woods folklore. I could even roll with the lunatic loner storyline. But the story hits a brick wall when it starts to blur myth with science, and the characters search for the key to communicate with nature. It gets ridiculous and silly, and it’s not even a good story to begin with. Not only does the film not cross the finish line, it doesn’t even come close. Ben Wheatley does a fine job directing the film, but the end result is an incoherent mess. If your movie has to be interpreted for or explained to audiences, you’re doing it wrong. The ear-shattering sound design is uncomfortable, and strobe lighting effects are so overused that it made me queasy. Call me crazy, but the simple act of watching a movie should never be this unpleasant.
In the Earth is the type of horror film that could be totally spoiled for you from the get-go on paper and it still wouldn’t prepare you for what actually takes place when you finally experience it for yourself. Ben Wheatley channels the psychotropic elements of A Field in England here than any other of his previous films. While the lack of a proper explanation of what is occurring can be considered frustrating or even if the events of In the Earth are actually coherent to the audience, the film capitalizes on the uncertainty of COVID combined with the dangers that may be lurking out in the world when restrictions are finally fully lifted. In the Earth is like COVID on an acid trip with only Ben Wheatley as your guide, which means that all you can do is clench your seat and wait for the effects to wear off. Whether you like it or not, sh*t is about to get weird. Full review: https://hubpages.com/entertainment/In-the-Earth-Review-Ben-Wheatleys-Polychromatic-Plunge-into-the-Pandemic