Only months after his well-intentioned Rebecca adaptation hit Netflix, Ben Wheatley is returning to horror with his latest feature, In the Earth. Written two weeks after the UK quarantine began last year, Wheatley’s secret micro-budget horror film premiered at Sundance in January and is now headed to theaters in April. Per information shared by Neon, In the Earth has a wickedly interesting and timely concept about a scientist and a park scout who enter a mysterious forest for a routine equipment run as a disastrous virus grips the planet. The cast includes Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Hayley Squires, Reece Shearsmith, John Hollingworth and Mark Monero. Fry is a notable talent to watch, as he will also appear in Disney’s new Cruella reimagining with Emma Stone.
Based on the large obelisk with hieroglyphs in the poster, it’s a fair guess to say that we may see some ancient and native folk horror elements within the film. However, the title and the tagline echo something more organic and primal — “nature is a force of evil.” An eco-horror film set during a global pandemic will certainly connect to some of our most modern fears.
Although the current slate of pandemic features has not quite captured audiences’ attention, In the Earth may just be the movie to do so. Wheatley felt he had to make a film that contextualized the moment, explaining:
“Movies I was seeing that had been made but released during the pandemic felt very old-fashioned. No one is talking about what has just happened… COVID is going to mark a generation. It felt like making a film in 1946 and not referencing the fact that everyone had just gone through the second World War. In that retrospect, I wanted to make something that would be immediate. To talk about this moment. I wanted to make something about the experience I was having right now. And I think that is what horror cinema should be. It takes the moment that we are living in and puts it into a genre.”The Meg 2
Wheatley’s features have been critically hit-or-miss, but almost always have a fascinating premise and stunning visuals. His horror movies like Kill List and A Field in England are more solid entries in his body of work, although his executive producer roles have brought us even better films like The Duke of Burgundy and The Greasy Strangler. A giant killer shark is his next project currently in development, as he’s set to direct with Jason Statham.
In the Earth comes to theaters on April 30. Check out the poster and official synopsis below.
“As the world searches for a cure to a disastrous virus, a scientist and park scout venture deep in the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness, the forest coming to life around them.”