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How 1970s Doctor Who Influenced Ben Wheatley’s New Horror Film, In the Earth

Director Ben Wheatley has spoken of the influence Doctor Who had on his new horror film In the Earth, which has just been released in cinemas.

Wheatley, who directed Peter Capaldi’s opening Doctor Who episodes Deep Breath and Into the Dalek in 2014, credits the 1970s era as a key influence:

“I got asked what I’m afraid of a few years ago, and my answer was the ’70s! There’s something about – and maybe that just means my own childhood – but there’s something about ’70s stuff that I’ve always found really sinister, and the idea of just remembering those old Doctor Whos makes me afraid, in a way beyond the actual, how they were executed. Just the feeling of that makes me scared.”

Described by more than one review as ‘folk horror’, In the Earth takes place during an unnamed pandemic and depicts dark goings-on when a scientist, tasked with delivering important equipment, has to make a trek through a forest said to be occupied by a malevolent spirit.

Along with horror classics like The Blair Witch Project and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wheatley credits the hugely influential Nigel Kneale, writer of Quatermass and The Stone Tape:

“And then the later part of the movie is more of a Nigel Kneale 1970s scientific horror, and has that slightly different change of pace where it takes its time a bit more and is a bit more deliberate.”

The new film garnered extremely positive reviews on its release last week, with The Observer‘s Mark Kermode describing it as ‘joyously mischievous’ in a four star review, and The Telegraph going for full the five stars, saying it’s “an outrageously entertaining film that’s meaningfully rooted in, but also happily transcends, the bleak year in which it was made.”

In the Earth is in UK cinemas now. Read more from Ben Wheatley’s interview at the Radio Times.

Jonathan Appleton

A regular Doctor Who viewer since Pertwee fought maggots and spiders, Jonathan isn't about to stop now. He considers himself lucky to have grown up in an era when Doctor Who, Star Trek and Blakes 7 could all be seen on primetime BBC1. As well as writing regularly for The Doctor Who Companion he's had chapters included in a couple of Blakes 7 books.

How 1970s Doctor Who Influenced Ben Wheatley’s New Horror Film, In the Earth

by Jonathan Appleton time to read: 1 min
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