A deadly virus has plunged the world into chaos. At a research facility, Dr Martin Lowery (Joel Fry) is on a mission to find the whereabouts of the errant Dr Olivia Wendle (Hayley Squires), last heard of conducting obscure experiments in a vast forest nearby. Accompanied by forest scout Alma (Ellora Torchia), Martin begins a long trek on foot, but before long, their camp is mysteriously raided, and Martin suffers a debilitating wound on his foot. Help comes from the mystical forest-dweller Zach (Reece Shearsmith), who has his own singular agenda. Having taken a puzzling detour with his well-appointed, unnecessary take on Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Ben Wheatley is on much surer footing with In The Earth, which recalls his earlier films Kill List, and most specifically A Field in England. The film invokes COVID lockdown anxieties whilst channelling a very English strain of folk horror, replete with axe-wielding visionaries, drug-fuelled psychedelic freak-outs, and ancient, unknowable pagan forces.
Notes by David O’Mahony