In The Earth (2021)

Quick synopsis: Two people (Joel Fry and Ellora Torchia) attempt to find a cure for a virus in a forest. Weird shit happens in this incredibly British folk-horror.

Ben Wheatley, he’s a weird one isn’t he? Well I’m assuming he’s weird because his films are really strange. But they’re strange in a kind of dreary way, where his films sometimes feel like you’re slowly moving through a dense swamp. The films of his I’m most familiar with are Sightseers and Free Fire, and tonally they’re completely different. And that’s not taking into account the sheer batshit insanity of A Field In England and the brutality of Kill List. You never know exactly what you’re going to get with Wheatley, but you know you’re going to get something unlike anything you’ve seen before.

And this? This is unlike anything else. The best way to describe it would be a, and bear with me here, a plant-based horror film. It’s nature infecting people and killing them. It’s hard to go into more details without spoiling it. Normally I freely spoil plot points in these reviews, but I’m not going to do this. For the same reason I didn’t spoil Searching or Knives Out, part of the pleasure in this film is watching it all unfurl.

Okay, maybe “pleasure” isn’t the right word. You don’t really “enjoy” this movie so much as survive it. It’s a horrific experience, but in a good way. The kaleidoscopic images really fuck with your head and make you feel like you’re suffering like the main characters are. It’s really good at putting you in their shoes, making you feel just as disorientated as they are. Just as pained too, especially in a scene where the main character gets his toes amputated, without anaesthetic. It’s brutal, disturbing, and weirdly funny. Wheatley is great at that, he makes you laugh at things you really shouldn’t. It probably helps that he works extensively with comedic actors; Alice Lowe, Julian Barrett, and Reece Shearsmith (better known now for the absolutely sublime Inside No. 9). Shearsmith is also in this, but surprisingly he’s not leading. That honour goes to Joel Fry, known better for his television work in Game Of Thrones, Plebs, and Trollied. It’s a bold choice to have him lead, but it’s one that pays off. He has that everyman quality which makes him easy to identify with, so when we see him suffer, we emphasise with him.

My biggest disappointment was that I didn’t get a chance to see this at the cinema. I had trailers for it but for whatever reason it wasn’t released locally to me. It’s a shame as I feel this on a big screen in a dark room would have been an intense experience, and one I sadly won’t get to partake in.

Narratively, not everything works. But the type of film this is, that doesn’t work too much against it. It withholds quite a lot of information from you, but that kind of works as the stuff it doesn’t tell you would be hard to bring up without it seeming like unnatural exposition. It would make the audience feel too much like they’re viewing something on a screen. The way it is it makes it feel like you’re actually living it.

There is a high chance you will hate this film. From the way I’ve gone on about it you may think it’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year. It’s not, it’s a solid 7/10 for me, it’s something I appreciated more than I liked. But it’s something I’m very glad I watched. And it’s something very unique, and that has to be applauded.

Sometimes Always Never (2018)

So, this is the first review since my big announcement, for those who missed it, it’s here. So with that in mind, what piece of horror media will I review to get in the mood for it? Oh, it’s a film about scrabble. It does feature death, maybe. It’s about a family struggling with someone running away years ago, and still suffering from not knowing what happened. The father copes by playing scrabble. Yeah, it’s strange, but within the context of the film, it works. This film is all about the script and the characters, and it completely nails both of those. The dialogue is razor-sharp and the characters are all well-defined to the point where you feel you have already met these characters.

The way they interact with each other is really sweet too, you understand the family dynamics easily and it’s incredibly heartwarming at times. So why have I not raved about great this movie is to everybody? From a technical standpoint, it looks a little cheap. I’m not sure if it was a stylistic choice or not but it didn’t really work for me. Also whilst the script is good, the story kind of meanders and doesn’t do enough. Characters are heavily focused on for one scene then never mentioned again. It aims for a slice-of-life dramedy but adds a bit too many plotlines which go unresolved to really seem satisfying. It seems at time that the story doesn’t know what it’s about so aims for as many themes as possible in the hopes of finally grasping onto one. The title comes from a discussion about buttons on suits (you sometimes do the top one up, always do the middle one up, and never do the bottom one), it seems a bit weird for a film where the themes are scrabble and words, to take the title from a rule about suit-buttons. It’s like they put that scene in just to explain the title.

The cast are pretty damn good in this though. Bill Nighy’s accent sometimes wavers but never too distractingly. Alice Lowe continues to be great, Louis Healy has a future in ITV dramas, and Sam Riley really shows off his range. The oddest highlight for me was Ella-Grace Gregoire. She’s not in it for long but has great screen presence and her natural charm lights up the scenes she’s in. This is helped by tremendous chemistry with the aforementioned Healy and Lowe. Interested to see what she does next and looking forward to it.

There is a really heartwarming and lovely film within this, it just tries a bit too hard to be a mix of Wes Anderson and quirky British drama, whilst never really approaching the heights needed for both.

How We Got Through: August 2017

47 Meters Down

Superbly done. Also had one of my favourite endings ever. It made it look like it had a “slightly unhappy but full of hope” ending, then it went the other way and made it super depressing. Most of the film takes place underwater, and it looks gorgeous. There’s one scene where a flare is going through the ocean water and you it’s almost complete darkness apart from the small flare making its way up. Since most of the film is underwater it relies heavily on performance. Luckily Mandy Moore completely knocks it out the arena with her performance in this.

Annabelle: Creation

Renders the original (which is technically the second Conjuring film, and a sequel to this, it’s odd) completely pointless as an origin story. Has some okay performances in it but most of them are just standard. No actual scares really, all jump scares. The scariest moments in this film had nothing to do with this film; 1) I thought there was only one other person in the cinema, who was sitting behind me. But near the end a phone went off near the front. Made me jump. 2) A seat was broken and had a white sheet covering it. Whenever someone opened the door (like when a cinema worker came in to check things were okay) it caused a draft which made the sheet rise, made it look like someone was standing up underneath it.

She got better as the film went on, in the closing section she was superb.

Atomic Blonde

Like a companion piece to John Wick, looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks of the year. And there’s one scene which everyone has to see; a single shot fight scene that lasts about 15 minutes, one of (in fact probably the) best fight scene I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t cut away before impact like most do, it’s mostly silent, no music so you hear every hit, and the fight has an effect on people, you can see them get gradually more exhausted as the fight goes on. Highly recommend seeing this.


Why? Why does this exist? Who is an r-rated version of baywatch for? People who liked the original won’t like it, and people who didn’t like the original won’t like this. Nobody was calling out for it and it feels like it was one of those films that was only made so they could hold onto the copyright. Also, does it need an R-rating? The only point of it would be nudity, to be as sexually exploitative as they can be, but it doesn’t really do that. Only has the rating because of the swearing, which I also have a problem with; there’s far too much swearing just for the sake of swearing. Now onto the actual film; the opening scene is basically “Look how fabulous The Rock is. He’s basically perfect”. Just full of other characters complimenting him so much that it almost seems sarcastic.

Black Dynamite

The closest thing I’ve ever seen to a Garth Marenghi movie. Very weird, but a lot of fun.

Bright Young Things

Some odd directing choices that don’t really work. Funny but don’t need to see it again.

Cars 3

A LOT better than the first two (although I hated the first two). Makes a better sequel to the first one than the second one did, links better to the original and continues the story arc started in that one.


Dumb fun that forgot to be fun.

Cockneys Vs. Zombies

See, now this is fun. Silly but brilliant. Extremely British. More zombie films should end with a Chas & Dave song. Also notable for being the only film I’ve seen this year where somebody dropkicks a baby into a billboard (although there’s still time for that to happen again).

Demetri Martin – Live (At The Time)

Great one liners, but kind of needed better connecting moments. Very one-liner which is funny, but won’t exactly change the way you see the world.

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The best horror film about a pregnant woman being controlled by a homicidal fetus that I’ve ever seen. I do love Alice Lowe, she makes amazing stuff. First Sightseers now this, she’s becoming Britains go-to female film-maker for smart, original dark comedies. She really needs to do a Black Mirror episode.


Shut In

Obvious twist ending is obvious. How did they get such a good cast in such a bad movie? Does the director have naked pictures of Naomi Watts or something? Her work is usually highly regarded so I can’t see why she did this.

The Big Sick

The best romcom I’ve seen all year.

The Drop

Considering how much I loved the film (and I did), it says a lot that this book is equally as good. Also, thank God for public libraries for giving me the chance to read this.

The Emoji Movie

So bland. Not even bad enough for me to say anything funny about it. Despite what some reviewers may say it’s not proof of all that is wrong with society, it’s not entirely evil, it’s just shit.


War For The Planet Of The Apes

A stunning end to one of the best trilogies of the last few years. Some people considered the franchise dead in the water after the Tim Burton version, the knives really were out for Rise, but it managed to become highly regarded not just by fans of the franchise, but by the general public. It made weirdly concept sci-fi cool again.