Saturday, January 30, 2021

In The Earth (2021) Sundance 2021

During a pandemic a ranger takes a scientist into the woods to bring equipment to a scientist working in isolation. In the middle of the night they are attacked and their equipment is taken or destroyed. They are left barefoot. Things get worse from there

Ben Wheatley is to be applauded for making a film last summer during the Covid crisis, but one really wishes he had been able to deliver more than a half an hour of suspense. At the end of the half hour (or is it 20 minutes?)  you suddenly realize that we've been here before in THE RITUAL, ANNIHILATION, STALKER, YELLOWBRICKROAD, HEART OF DARKNESS and not to mention several other Wheatley films. This is the cryptic existential thing in the woods film except that he doesn't really bring it together well enough for us to accept even the lack of answers.

Gross at times, there is reoccurring nastiness involving a foot wound, plus other icky things, this film doesn't really seem to know what it wants to do. IS this a head trip or a gore film? Are you telling a creepy story or are you going to lean into the strobes and weird sounds?

Moving at a snails pace we are given way too much time to ponder there is nothing going on here. Worse the film throws out so many possible explanations that all the talk doesn't seem like its part of a concrete world but instead it simply sounds like a screenwriter trying to fill time but throwing so much crap out he hopes something sticks to the wall.

I grew bored and I kept waiting for something internally logical to happen, instead of seeing each turn as simply something to spark action.

The sad thing is the cast is killer. I would gladly see them all return in another better plotted film- hell even a remake where the planet is out to kill us meets mad scientist meets psycho in the woods genres actually come together to work. It's so damn close it breaks your heart.

Additionally the title design of the opening and closing credits are wonderful, as are the trippy pagan 2001 style visuals near the end.

A misfire that will probably delight Wheatley fans or those who haven't seen all the films he appears to be borrowing from

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