I have seen quite a few reactions to the news that director Ben Wheatley was to direct Meg 2: The Trench. Some thought he was too indie to direct this studio film, and some weren't familiar with his work. Here are seven reasons why Ben Wheatley is a great choice to direct a giant megalodon movie. Giant shark movies have been horror since Jaws, and since Deep Blue Sea, they have also turned into dark comedies. This is also a handy list if you want to check out some of Wheatley's other films, and you should.
Kill List (2011)
Ben Wheatley has been making films since 2009's Down Terrace, but Kill List is a hyperviolent folk horror film about a hitman who starts to suspect a powerful force is working against him as his life goes out of control. No literal sharks, but highly dangerous humans are all over the film. The film's violence, dark, ironic humor, and beautiful photography, the shot referenced here even looks like it could be underwater, all support the idea that Wheatley is a good choice.
Sightseers is a black comedy horror film about a woman who goes on holiday with her new boyfriend, who happens to be a serial killer. Check out this shot from the film. The comedy in this film, co-written by frequent collaborator Amy Jump and comedians Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, who starred as the couple, is so wild and edgy that it elicited gasps of shock from the people I watched it with. There are a lot of hilarious but scary kills in this one.
U is for Unearthed (2012)
The ABCs of Death was an anthology film with 26 micro-shorts from some of horror's best new talents. Ben Wheatley directed the micro-short U is for Unearthed, which is well worth the short time it takes to watch. U is for Unearthed shows a group of people digging up a vampire. Unwisely, they choose to do this at night, and it is shot from the POV of the vampire. It is just this kind of thinking that makes Wheatley's films a frightful delight. He turns situations inside out rather than just following the usual playbook. In Meg 2: The Trench, the POV shot from inside the megalodon's mouth is hilarious.
A Field in England (2013)
A Field In England has a gorgeous and psychedelic composition of the film's shots and manages to construct an entire movie shot only in one field. One of the most overlooked successes of Jaws was just how beautiful the film was and how well-composed and striking the shots were in the movie. Most people talk about the shark, with good reason. Wheatley's composition and love of the magnificent horror of nature are all over his filmography.
High-Rise, an adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel, is about the tenants of a luxury building that is supposed to care for all of your needs but has a divided system of haves and have-nots, leading to class warfare and a lethal rebellion. The central conflict in Jaws is not so much about the shark but the insistence of the mayor that the local economy is more important than warning people about the danger of the killer shark. In High Rise, the real villain is the architect of the building, who insists that nothing is wrong when it is. In Meg 2: The Trench, the issue is the force working behind the scenes against the mission, which you see here and in Kill List. It is, again, comedy so dark it might have been kicked down a well.
Free Fire (2016)
Free Fire also doesn't have any sharks, but it does have a ton of black comedy as two groups of arms dealers fight over a cache of weapons in a warehouse. What made the first film, The Meg, work, aside from the sharks, was the comedy that was embedded in the film's dialogue and scenes. Much like films like Deep Blue Sea, it did not take itself too seriously and used humor to enhance the film's watchability. Wheatley's Free Fire is all about that, and Wheatley's ability to film gun battles and fighting while keeping the quips flowing works well for Meg 2: The Trench.
In the Earth (2021)
In the Earth is a pandemic horror film where nature shows us how small we are. In every shark horror film, even though there is usually a human villain, the power of nature humbles us all. The force of nature in this film is mycorrhizae which have a symbiotic relationship with the trees in the forest. The connection here is how often human beings lord over the planet, believing they are at the top of the food chain and the most powerful beings on Earth. The mycorrhiza even gets an assist from a human villain who believes in the myths of the forest, and he might not be totally wrong. In both In the Earth and Meg 2: The Trench, humans discover that should the other creatures in our world decide to fight or eat us, many of us will probably lose.