Reviews | Written by Joel Harley 30/06/2021

UNEARTH

Two families on neighbouring farms in rural America begin feuding when one of them sells their land to a fracking corporation. Kathryn Dolan (genre legend Adrienne Barbeau) and George Lomack (the least-good Buffy ex, Marc Blucas) are at loggerheads after the skint dad sells up. What is unleashed – sorry, unearthed – is a simmering hotbed of hate and resentment. The cause? Toxic family dynamics, or whatever ancient evil has been coughed up from all the fracking? Described as an anti-fracking horror film, Unearth is pretty clear as to the what and the why, but its horrors are only exacerbated by volatile personalities and the death of the farming industry.

A kitchen sink soap opera by way of HP Lovecraft, this ecological horror film seethes with menace and dread. The use of fracking as a plot device has grown in recent years, but Unearth is the first to actually be about fracking, rather than the silly CGI monsters it dredges up. It’s a film about consequences; specifically those which our children face in the onslaught of man-made extinction.

Unearth is more than just a lecture though, and the film is heaving with mood and atmosphere. Its story may be a slow-burn, but directors John C. Lyons and Dorita Swies keep that sense of dread permanently percolating, bubbling away beneath the surface. Cinematographer Eun-ah Lee does good work in ensuring that audiences can still see through all of the murk (it’s not just the story that’s dark), but it’s Jane Saunders’s soundtrack which audiences will remember most. Unsettling and oppressive, it makes Unearth an unforgettable experience, even as the story trudges slowly along. This is a deep, dark excavation of festering resentment and opportunism gone wrong. It can be too grounded for its own good, but, by the time its earth-rending finale comes about, the message is clear and true.