Ben Wheatley returns to horror with In The Earth

Shot during the pandemic, In The Earth promises a back-to-basics approach from the director of Rebecca (2020). I, for one, am pleased about this. With Wheatley recently announced as the director of Tomb Raider 2 and The Meg 2, I feared he may have been lost to Hollywood forever. This latest announcement seems to suggest […]

George Cochrane
11th November 2020
Shot during the pandemic, In The Earth promises a back-to-basics approach from the director of Rebecca (2020).

I, for one, am pleased about this. With Wheatley recently announced as the director of Tomb Raider 2 and The Meg 2, I feared he may have been lost to Hollywood forever. This latest announcement seems to suggest otherwise, that Wheatley still has his feet on the ground – or in the earth, as it were.

Ben Wheatley is also set to direct the sequel to 2018's The Meg
Image Credit: IMDb

The low-budget, guerrilla style Wheatley brought to bear on his early work – on films like Kill List (2011) and A Field in England (2013) – made for some of the most unsettling British films of recent years, and so I am thrilled he has returned to that method for this one. You don’t get much more guerrilla than filming in the middle of a pandemic!

It’s inevitable that we’re going to get lots of pandemic movies in the coming years, so I don’t blame Wheatley for jumping on the bandwagon early.

The film stars Ellora Torchia and Joel Fry, alongside Wheatley alumni Reece Shearsmith and Hayley Squires, and follows the journey of a scientist and a park ranger through a haunted forest during – what else? – a global pandemic. I suppose it’s inevitable that we’re going to get lots of pandemic movies in the coming years, so I don’t blame Wheatley for jumping on the bandwagon early. I certainly have more faith in him than Michael Bay, whose producer credit on the upcoming Covid film Songbird augurs schlock of the highest order.

Will In the Earth mark the return of Wheatley to finding the terrors of the countryside, like Kill List?
Image credit: IMDb

What I am excited about is the setting. With Kill List (2011), A Field in England (2013) and Sightseers (2012), Wheatley proved himself a brilliant photographer of the outdoors, able to find terrors in the British countryside not seen on screen since the great folk horrors of the sixties and seventies. The ending of Kill List in particular – that section in the forest – is a real tour de force of fear, and so all horror fans should rejoice that Wheatley is returning to the woods.

When we will get to see the film, though, is unclear. The distributor of Parasite (2019), Neon, has picked up the distribution rights in the US and is looking for a 2021 release there, but no buyer has, as yet, been forthcoming in the UK. But knowing how long it takes for independent films to get released here, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw The Meg 2 first.

Feature images credit: IMDb

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