Movies change throughout time, and one day you won’t be able to look at “In the Earth” without seeing the ramifications of pandemic filmmaking. The filmmaker, Ben Wheatley, began writing it at the start of Britain’s lockdown, and parts of the finished movie — the outdoor scene; references to quarantine, a third wave, and a sickness sweeping a metropolis; the actors’ surgical masks at the outset — are unmistakably reminiscent of the last year. IMDB
When seen now, the film’s inventive, even inventive answers to issues serve as distractions; if these fade away, some of the film’s potency may fade as well. Wheatley, who has recently dabbled in splashy literary adaptations (J.G. Ballard in “High-Rise,” Daphne du Maurier in last year’s remake of “Rebecca”), earned his cult reputation straddling horror and dark comedy in lower-budget fare like “Kill List” and “A Field in England,” will be left with a back-to-basics effort.
The scene is now placed in an English forest. Alma (Ellora Torchia) and Martin (Joel Fry) are on a quest to find Dr. Olivia Wendle (Hayley Squires), who is about to embark on a two-day hike deep into the woods. Her communications have ceased, and we’ve been warned that out there, “people become a little strange.” Dr. Wendle’s research, which involves trees being connected and managed in a network that acts like a brain, seems a little strange.