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[Cannes ’21] ‘In the Soil’ review: Moody short is a grave affair

Sound and emotion.

In the Soil is not the type of short film one would expect to find at the Cannes Film Festival. Though the fest is no stranger to horror, the Danish short leans into its genre trappings in a way few films do on the French Riviera. It is the type of short that would seem to be more a home at Fantasia or similar genre film festivals. The result is an intimate and frightening look into obsession.

In the Soil builds to a shocking finale.

The movie is about a father named Kifeld who has become obsessed with digging a pit in the backyard of his home. His daughter Karoline watches with confusion and fear. She soon comes to the conclusion her father’s plans must be stopped. In the Soil uses sound to intensify the tension. The music hits in short hard bursts, never frightening the audience, but always keeping them aware. Nothing is added to amplify the digging; instead the sounds of the work are the focus of many scenes. It is engaging and leads to questions. The few moments of dialogue are pointed and directed. This adds to the tone of the short.

In the Soil builds nicely to its shocking finale. It does a wonderful job of setting an atmosphere that is filled with concern and terror. Each scene plays into the events of the story and nothing is superfluous. The last moments of the short are terrifying and explore a different type of fear. While it is obvious what has happened to Kifeld, the film leaves audiences wondering why. It is then that the story delivers its greatest scare.

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