Reece Shearsmith says that Ben Wheatley’s new movie, In the Earth, uses the pandemic to tell a story about humankind and storytelling itself. In an interview with The Digital Fix, Reece explained how it felt to be making a film following the lockdown and if he felt awkward making a movie around such a sensitive subject.
He explained: “Well, I mean, it was sort of cathartic because we were out of it all and in the woods. [The movie] was our saviour in that we were able to embrace the nuts and bolts of actually making the film. It allowed us, from having not been able to go anywhere since March, to make this weird journey into the woods, and that was a joyful thing.” He continued: “It never felt like, Oh, we shouldn’t be doing this, or it’s too soon because it felt like the pandemic’s a jumping-off point for a bigger story about humankind and how we tell ourselves stories.”
We have to agree with Reece, while In The Earth may be set during a pandemic is uses that setting to tell a much more surreal and haunting story about the impact of isolation and the dangers of a false narrative, all told through the lens of folk horror.
Directed by Ben Wheatley, In the Earth focuses on lma (Ellora Torchia) and Martin (Joel Fry), a park guide and a scientist respectively, on a routine equipment drop. Their mission becomes something far darker though when they meet Zach (Shearsmith) an unstable man who believes there’s something inhuman living in the woods that he must pay tribute to.
It’s an interestingly restrained performance from Shearsmith, which plays against his usual comic persona to great effect. The menacing Zach may be as deranged as some of the characters he’s played on The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville, but he’s a lot less funny and a lot more dangerous.
He told The Digital Fix that they made the decision to play down Zach’s kookiness early on. He said: “I think we came down on the side of it being more measured because it was more frightening, I think, to have someone who was so calm and unwavering and sure of themselves in their craziest beliefs.” Reece continued: “That is probably more chilling if you think I’m not gonna be able to persuade them any other way, and I’ve had it now. That was more frightening I think than being ranty and ravey.”
In the Earth hits cinemas on June 18, with previews on June 17. While you wait why not check out our list of the best horror movies.