Friday, January 10, 2020

The Sand

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Anakin Skywalker's most hated film.

The Sand – 1 out of 5

I heard about The Sand a couple of years ago but never took the time to seek it out to watch it.  I’m not sure why because the inherent cheesiness of its concept should have had me pushing people over in order to find it but, instead, it just sat on my Watch List.  Well, I finally decided to seek it out and it is an absolutely terrible movie…but a damn fun one to watch.

I thought this was The Sand but I guess this works too.

It's truly astonishing that no one was curious what this was
or worried in any way.
It’s beach party time for a bunch of young folks!  There’s drinking and debauchery and apparently a couple of them find a strange gooey ball/egg and no one really questions it!  And then the morning hits but there’s no time for hangovers as Marsha (Nikki Leigh) sets out to find out who took her top.  As she gets up, finds the sand has “grabbed” her foot and she can’t move.  As she’s being sucked in, Vance (Hector David Jr.) tries to help but trips and falls.  The rest of the group looks on in horror as the sand consumes Marsha and rips Vance’s skin off and pulls his body under.  Now Kaylee (Brooke Butler), Ronnie (Cynthia Murell), Gilbert (Cleo Berry), Jonah (Dean Geyer), Chanda (Meagan Holder) and Mitch (Mitchel Musso) need to find a way off the beach as the ball/egg thingy they found last night seemed to have hatched, buried itself under the sand, ate most of their friends in the night while they were passed out and will eat them too if their skin touches the sand.

Come on, don't pull the "I'm not touching you" nonsense with the monster.

"The sand doesn't have me.  I just tripped and landed
on my keys!"
To put it bluntly, The Sand isn’t a very good monster movie.  It’s bogged down heavily by some really bad special effects and a premise that feels like it was stolen from the Roger Corman idea file.  The acting is serviceable at best but never truly remarkable—with the exception of Jamie Kennedy who plays a beach patrol agent and he is chewing the scenery like tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.  Additionally, the story wastes no time getting started and setting up the conflict but then immediately puts on the brakes and pads out as many scenes and sequences as it can because it doesn’t have the meat to make it to a feature running length.  Finally, the closing moments feels very unsatisfying as it farts out an ending.  Sure, it attempts to do a typical monster movie ending to show you that the horror has only been temporarily suspended and that bigger threats are on the horizon but even this feels like a weak-sauce attempt at a monster movie cliché.  All of this culminates into a film that, on the surface, isn’t great and doesn’t hold up on its own merits as entertaining but this also works to make the film a wondrous piece of accidental comedy and one of those low budget horror features that are fun to watch and riff on.

Jamie Kennedy's role is awful and he is just grating in his performance.
And then the movie doesn't bother to deliver a decent death for him thanks
to the shitty special effects.  What a ripoff!

The bad special effects come off like some cheap Adobe After Effects you’d see on an absurdist comedy piece, like something from Tim & Eric.  The characters are never actually pulled into the sand but rather kinda phase through them like a ghost or like they are Kitty Pryde on the X-Men.  The absolutely cheesy blood effects almost look like they were animated with MS Paint and when you combine these elements it stops the film from being a legit monster movie and makes it a legit B-movie comedy.  One element, however, that really embodies the strange dichotomy of this whole “what makes this movie bad also makes it strangely good” is the cast and the characters.

In the dark, it's easier to hide bad special effects.  That's why the creature didn't pull
out its big tentacles when the sun was out.

Like too many horror/slasher/monster movies, the film is filled with completely unlikeable characters.  Since this film is all about college aged kids, the attitude from all of them is ramped up to 11 (because writers all see anyone younger than them as shitheads with condescending attitudes).  Having such jerk characters made me openly wonder why any of them would party together because most of them didn’t seem too concerned with each other’s wellbeing as the story progressed and it made me wonder why I should cheer for their survival.  For example, the character of Gilbert wakes up in the morning to find out that, after he passed out, he was put into a trashcan as a prank—admittedly, a shitty prank that really doesn’t make much sense.  After the threat that the group is under is identified, anytime someone asks him how he is, he responds with one of two things (or a combination of both).  He either tells that person to “fuck off” or inform them that he’s “dying over here.”  

"Um, guys!  What do I do if I have to poop?  Actually, never mind."

Then there is the character of Chanda.  Chanda sleeps with Kaylee’s boyfriend Jonah.  Chanda is portrayed through much of the movie as a terrible person for this but Kaylee seems to give Jonah a pass for being a part of the whole thing.  It seems unfair to put the entire blame on one member of the duo and to have this blame being cast by one of the few characters that is supposed to be the “pure” and “kind” one sorta throws a wrench into the whole character element of the film.  This also created a bit of headcanon for me that Jonah cheats on Kaylee a lot and gaslights her about it so she projects her frustrations about him on the women that Jonah cheats with.  Of course, that is me projecting more in-depth character dynamics than a film like The Sand actually has.  Honestly, the film didn’t even seem like it was trying to give these characters any sense of depth beyond the idea that people will immediately resort to be antagonistic dicks to each other if they are in any sense of danger.

"I can't take out my frustrations on a boyfriend who takes me for granted because
our relationship is abusive so I am taking this out on you!"

Turns out the real monster was humanity and their
polluting ways.
The Sand is a pretty silly film that almost feels like it fully realizes how silly it is and tries to legitimize itself as a serious monster film from the very beginning.  Right off the bat when the characters wake up from the party, the film delivers one of its goriest moments and delivers the gratuitous topless scene.  Granted, the boobs were completely needless and the gore was laughably bad thanks to the weak special effects but there was no denying that it felt like the film was overcompensating for the ensuing weaknesses the film has over the horizon.  However, as stupid as this film can be, it is really fun to watch.  All of its problems are either delivered or showcase to that certain degree that it becomes a silly feature to watch that is good for a chuckle and to riff on.

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