8/10 I watched the entire filmography of writer/director Ben Wheatley leading up to his last film, “Rebecca”. Luckily, there was only a six-month gap between that movie (which I found to be disappointing) and this vast improvement. I honestly can’t even remember the last great horror film that I saw was but luckily, “In the Earth” has the horror crown so far in 2021. Wheatley returns to his roots and the early films he used to make before he became more mainstream. This film is extremely grisly and gory, with several scenes that will make you squirm. If you aren’t big into horror films or get queasy easily, you will want to avoid this film. As a horror fan, I was intrigued and in awe for the film’s entire duration. Inspired by and shot during the pandemic with a tiny cast out in the woods, “In the Earth” thankfully isn’t just about a pandemic with nature turning on humans, as I expected it to (which also would have given me PTSD to “The Happening”). Instead, Wheatley delivers a disturbing film that does deal with the dangers of nature, but is more about people in isolation going crazy (sound familiar?) and how their pagan beliefs drive them to madness and make them a danger to everyone around them (similar in how some people believe/worship the government or the scientific community or conspiracy theories, etc.). The plot takes several different turns and I was fascinated and horrified every step of the way. The acting is strong and the score from one of my all-time favorite film composers, Clint Mansell, is some of his best work yet. There are lots of bright flashing lights and quick jump cuts (the film even begins with a warning for people who have epilepsy) that mess with your head and put you into our characters’ shoes. A character talks about how she uses light and sound to communicate, which is exactly how film makers communicate with us as an audience. After all, celluloid is just a combination of light (images) and sound. The film works on several levels. It parallels today’s pandemic related problems without being too on the nose, it acts as a horror film and it comments on film making, art, communication, trust, fear, nature, etc. I feel like this is a film that you will get more out of on repeated viewings, if you’ve got the stomach for it. My only real complaints were a couple clichés that took place and in true horror film fashion, characters made some extremely stupid decisions. That being said, it’s extremely refreshing to see Wheatley going back to his roots, literally and figuratively, for a violent, gory thrill ride with relevance. This is his strongest film in years and I’m hoping he keeps this creative energy flowing into his next project. A must see for horror fans all over this Earth.

#MakeLikeATreeAndLeaf / #TheTreesHaveEyes / #NotAMistOpportunity / #AsaltOfTheEarth / #WhenNatureBefalls / #ForrestChump

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