Ben Wheatley struck out with his critically-maligned remake of “Rebecca” for Netflix last year, but fortunately he’s already rebounding with “In the Earth.” The project world premiered to strong buzz at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and marks Wheatley’s return to the horror genre, where he first made a name for himself as a filmmaker with cult favorites “Sightseers” and “Kill List.” “In the Earth” was filmed over 15 days in secret during the pandemic and stars Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Hayley Squires, and Reece Shearsmith.
The official synopsis for “In the Earth” from Neon reads: “As the world searches for a cure to a disastrous virus, a scientist and a park scout venture deep in the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness, the forest coming to life around them.”
IndieWire senior film critic David Ehrlich awarded “In the Earth” a B+ review out of Sundance earlier this year, writing, “Ben Wheatley’s fun, gnarly, and resourceful micro-budget pandemic movie redefines what it means to commune with nature…It’s a micro-budget horror movie every bit as ancient and elemental as its title suggests; a gnarly and largely satisfying nightmare about someone who tries to leave the coronavirus behind, only to wander into the dark heart of an eternal struggle.”
“I wanted to make a film that was contextualized in the moment,” Wheatley says of “In the Earth” in the film’s press notes. “Movies I was seeing that had been made but released during the pandemic felt very old-fashioned. No one is talking about what has just happened…Covid is going to mark a generation. It felt like making a film in 1946 and not referencing the fact that everyone had just gone through the second world war.”
Wheatley continued, “In that retrospect, I wanted to make something that would be immediate. To talk about this moment. I wanted to make something about the experience I was having right now. And I think that is what horror cinema should be. It takes the moment that we are living in and puts it into a genre.”
Neon will release “In the Earth” in theaters beginning April 30. Watch the official trailer for the horror movie below.