Ben Wheatley: ‘Early on the pandemic felt like a time for getting a crossbow ready to hunt for petroleum’

The director on his new horror movie set during a pandemic, fearing he’d never work again, and why audiences love Jason StathamFor many of us, much of the past year will have felt like the plot of a horror film.

So when, in March 2020, the British writer and director Ben Wheatley, 48, found himself with some unexpected free time, it was clear what the genre of his next project would be.

The result, the terrifying and blackly comic In the Earth, went from concept to virtual Sundance premiere in less than 12 months.

It is set in the midst of a pandemic that may feel familiar in some senses but, on a two-day forest trek, a scientist (Joel Fry) and a park scout (Ellora Torchia) also have to contend with a malignant woodland spirit and a deranged Reece Shearsmith.

Wheatley has an eclectic, never-dull, often grisly backlist that includes Sightseers,

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