While making the horror classic Evil Dead 2, Sam Raimi admitted that the various calamities visited upon the main character, Ash, were less about driving the story forward and more about torturing his star, Bruce Campbell. While watching In the Earth, I can’t help but wonder if director Ben Wheatley had the same fun with his star, Joel Fry.
Over its 100-minute runtime, Fry’s scientist Martin Lowrey goes through indignity after indignity, starting with losing his shoes on a cross-forest walk and escalating to much worse. With his hangdog expression and innate likability, Fry is game for everything the movie throws at his character. But Lowrey’s Wile E. Coyote-esque travails do eventually undermine the film’s attempts at building dread.