Daily Archives: June 7, 2022

In the Earth (2021)

This bizarre, low budget folk/eco horror film from Ben Wheatley (High-Rise, A Field in England, etc.) features Joel Fry (Plebs, W1A, etc.) as Martin Lowery, a scientist sent to a an oddly over-fecund forest during a global pandemic. Once there he discovers that the forest– elevated to legend in local folklore– possesses some form of agency, even, apparently, conscripting people into its inscrutable designs.

As part of its efforts to represent non-human intelligence the film’s narrative structure shatters into image-shards, a stroboscopic montage that undercuts the kind of story-logic we tend to automatically seek in film. It’s this kind of formalism– which is really an effort to surpass conventional cinematic storytelling– which supports Wheatley’s ultimate project. The natural world speaks in a sense– it possesses a symbolic register– but its language is utterly incommensurate with our own. In this regard the film’s diegetic sound– in particular the crackle and whisper of vegetable life– provides a powerful complement to its most striking visual images.