The early years of Ben Wheatley’s prolific filmmaking career saw him splashing around in thrillingly nasty territory – the nightmarish cult horror of Kill List, the barbed and bloody laughs of Sightseers, and the psychedelic folky weirdness of A Field In England. From there, he moved away from the scuzziness with the likes of Free Fire and Netflix’s Rebecca – but with his pandemic-shot film In The Earth, Wheatley is firmly back in horror territory and ready to freak us all out. In fact, going by the brand new trailer, this one really does seem like a midway point between Kill List and A Field In England – pitching a pair of characters into a freaky British landscape where all kinds of grimness and psychological trickery awaits. Check out the trailer here:
Ooft. There’s plenty to go off here, but the trailer does anything but spell the whole thing out – instead we get mere flashes of self-administered stitches, freaky giant stick figures, a spore-puffing growth, talk of something witchy in the woods, an unsettling monolithic rock, and a beardy Reece Shearsmith running around with an axe, hinting that In The Earth (or, A Forest In England) will be a real mix of genre elements. Leading the cast here is Joel Fry, stranded in the forest with Ellora Torchia (if she seems at home among the arboreal aberrations, that’s because she previously starred in Midsommar), and menaced by Shearsmith and Hayley Squires. Here’s the official synopsis: “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.”
Plenty of Wheatley’s regular collaborators are on board here – Shearsmith previously appeared in High-Rise and A Field In England, Squires was a player in Happy New Year, Colin Burstead, and Clint Mansell is back on scoring duties. Notably, this one was written solely by Wheatley – often, the writing credit on Wheatley’s films goes to his life-partner and filmmaking-partner Amy Jump, who here is credited as an executive producer. We’ll find out exactly what kind of nightmare Wheatley has in store for us when In The Earth hits UK cinemas on 18 June.