Unearth. 2020. US. Directed by John C. Lyons, Dorota Swies. Screenplay by Kelsey Goldberg, John C. Lyons. With Adrienne Barbeau, P. J. Marshall. DCP. 94 min.
As a subgenre, eco horror is generally the least coded: the warnings about the toll of humanity’s impact on the environment are pointed, increasingly serious-minded—and likely to make especially unnerving use of the most expressive digital effects available. Unearth is all of this and more. Two feuding, financially struggling farm families suffer the deadly consequences of a grossly disfiguring, mind-altering fungal infection when one family allows fracking on their land. Dealing in the themes of greed, ignorance, and self-destruction that traditionally feed tragedy, Swies and Lyons seek to spark our concern over pressing threats to America’s shrinking agricultural working class and the future of the natural world. Those familiar with Adrienne Barbeau’s acting work for John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and George A. Romero will especially appreciate her intense, seasoned performance, which brings an added sense of authority and continuity to the horrific subject matter.