In the Earth review: Cosmic horror in the void between technology and magic - Polygon
Apr 15, 2021 1 min, 51 secs

In the Earth (which would make a solid double-header with Woodshock, The Happening, Midsommar, or the season 1 X-Files episode, “Darkness Falls”) begins with an act of destruction deep inside a verdant forest, a sequence that serves as a subtle nod to Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Martin has been isolated for months due to an unnamed pandemic sweeping his world, and he seems almost desperate to connect with new people.

The only people Martin spends time with are Frank (Mark Monero), the doctor who inspects him for symptoms of the spreading illness, and Alma (Ellora Torchia), the park ranger assigned to guide him into the forest to meet fellow scientist Dr.

Wendle, who is researching ways to make crop growth more efficient, is well-known for her theory that all the trees in a forest are connected, like one gigantic brain.

Could anything have dissuaded Martin from his two-day trek through the forest to meet Olivia.

In the Earth becomes a sort of road movie as the capable Alma guides Martin through landscapes both barren and dense.

The all-business Alma is at first patient with Martin, then increasingly irritated by his shortcomings, and perhaps his mistruths; Torchia memorably flexes her face into a wide range of exasperated reactions.

Martin develops a mysterious rash that looks like a configuration of runes.

Wheatley’s close-ups find importance in holes, and the emptiness they represent: a circular gap in a stone that looks like a portal, the gaping maw of an abandoned tent deep in the forest, a horrendous gash on Martin’s foot, spurting blood.

Like the recent cosmic-horror film Color Out of Space, Wheatley creates tension through inexplicability, and litters the plot with prickly details that snag Martin and Alma like stinging nettles, marking them as trespassers in this place.

“People get a bit funny in these woods sometimes,” Frank tells Martin, and In the Earth uses that line to explore the acid-trip possibilities of the natural world, and how our human need for control pollutes it.

But the unease that In the Earth builds is infectious, and its moments of gory brutality, prevailing awe, and kaleidoscopic conclusion make it worth watching

In the Earth will release in theaters on April 16

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