Unearth (2021)

Directors: John C. Lyons, Dorota Swies

Running Time: 94 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Marc Blucas, Allison McAtee, Brooke Sorenson, Rachel McKeon, P.J. Marshall, Monica Wyche, Chad Conley

Some of the most effective horror stories are ripped from real-life terrors, ranging from serial-killer inspirations to systematic racism. Directors John C. Lyons and Dorota Swies use fracking, and how humanity takes nature for granted, to focus on two families struggling to make ends meet and how a big business makes matters worse.

After their grandfathers passing, the Dolans cannot agree with how to recoup their losses on their farm. Family matriarch Kathryn (Adrienne Barbeau) is at odds with adult son Tom (P.J. Marshall), while his temper drives step-daughter Christina (Allison McAtee) further away. Their neighbours and close friends are the Lomacks, as George (Marc Blucas) must contend with a floundering business while drowning in medical bills. The familial friendship becomes frosty when George leases his land to a natural gas company, though once the drilling starts, the land becomes infected and threatens the people.

Co-written with Kelsey Goldberg, Lyons has crafted a compelling rural drama, where characters struggle to persevere in a life the world has left behind. The slow-burn nature dives into these characters lives, detailing their relationships as effectively as their shattered hopes and dreams. Characters are well established before the horrific elements come into play, while Jane Saunders' foreboding and unnerving score accentuates the proceedings.

It takes a bit for the horror to kick in, something which may test the patience of horror-hungry viewers, though it doesn't disappoint upon arrival. Practical effects ensure the body horror elements are well realised for creepy effect, as families are torn asunder by these unfathomable events. Although it rushes towards an abrupt ending, this is an effective eco-horror born from corporate greed, as corporations put the bottom line above peoples lives.

Unearth is available on DVD and Digital Platforms from 28th June