Ben Wheatley Films Ranked

8. Down Terrace (2009)

A Brighton-based gangster family faces turmoil when the boss and his heir apparent return home from prison and find treachery in their midst, as well as particularly violent family squabbles on the horizon.

This is a perfectly serviceable gritty gangster flick, but it doesn’t feel particularly unique or cinematic. The cast and their highly dysfunctional chemistry are on-point (especially Robin Hill as the unstable nominal lead Karl) and the acts of violence we witness almost under duress are particularly nasty and without an iota of glamorisation.

You would not want to mess with these guys, or meet them on the street, or spend much time let alone a whole movie with them, which is quite unfortunate for Down Terrace.

7. Rebecca (2020)

Rebecca Review

Not a patch on Hitchcock but still a distinctive take on Daphne DuMaurier’s gothic classic. This also has the misfortune of starring Armie Hammer as a character who’s a creepy abuser since… everything that has been alleged about him since.

Casting-wise it’s Hammer who seems the most out of his depth here as Maxim de Winter, but Kristin Scott Thomas is perfect as an icy Mrs Danvers and Lily James gives her protagonist more agency and resolve than this story’s lead usually has in other adaptations.

It could have certainly been Wheatley-er, mostly lacking his usual macabre sensibilities, but his style does seep through the cracks, particularly in a striking dream sequence in the second act, and the production design and lighting is impeccable throughout and in service to the generally great performances.

Recommended for you: Top 10 Alfred Hitchcock Films

6. In the Earth (2021)

“People get a bit funny in the woods sometimes”.

During an ongoing pandemic a microbiologist (Joel Fry) and his ranger guide (Ellora Torchia) trek through woodland containing unusual plants looking for a cure. Following a sudden night time attack in their tents they are seemingly rescued by the strange but affable Zach (Reece Shearsmith) but soon find themselves far from safety and losing their sanity.

Wheatley was one of several filmmakers that used his lockdown time productively and found themselves inspired by the Covid pandemic. There’s a particularly hard-hitting exchange early on about the film’s unknown pandemic – “Things will go back to normal quicker than you think. Everyone will forget” / “No, I don’t think anyone will forget” – and likewise you’ll struggle to forget this film even if you don’t completely get it, or if you were hoping for an actual monster in the trees.

In the Earth will be a great companion piece to A Field in England, being just as tricky and trippy but with a more mischievously dark undercurrent, contemporary relevance and Reece Shearsmith and Haley Squires battling for the Most Deranged Tent Dweller of the Year award in the film’s final stretch.

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