In the Earth is a cinematic cautionary tale that suggests getting back to nature can be more dangerous than a pandemic, and encountering a seemingly friendly, hermetic forest-dweller can be more dangerous still.

In between filming a reimagining of the Hitchcock classic Rebecca and his upcoming high profile productions, filmmaker Ben Wheatley was inspired by the unsatisfying experience of watching pre-Covid, crowd-filled films to write and direct the micro-budgeted horror film. Shot over 15 days in August of 2020, In the Earth was the first production shot since the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in England had begun.

In the midst of a worldwide epidemic, scientist Martin (Joel Fry) has plans to abandon his months-long self quarantine and go deep into primeval forest land to seek out a researcher, guided by park scout Alma (Ella Torchia). It will take days. While camping close to their target, research hub ATU327A, at the forest’s center, they are attacked in the dead of night, and left bruised and shoeless. Oh…and we’ve already been shown someone splitting rocks into shards and hiding them in the underbrush. What could go wrong? Martin steps into one of these shards, leaving a bleeding, angry gash on the sole of his foot. Good thing, then, that greasy-haired survivalist Zach (Reece Shearsmith) happens upon them in short order, inviting them to his camp, where he has shoes just Martin’s size, and offers them a drink that may or may not be a neurotoxin.

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