The Sand (2015) – By Baron Craze

 

Screenwriters Alex Greenfield (The Temple (2012)) and Ben Powell (Satanic (2006)) create a return to beach horror, and from a quick reference of the horror genre, of movies focused on a beach, truly narrows the selection down, making for an interesting comparison very challenging, however not impossible. Their story provides first time director Isaac Gabaeff steps on the stage for a horror film, focus in one area this demonstrates both limiting funding and gives the actors a chance to shine in the blazing sun. A group of college students, have an incredible and wild party on a secluded beach, in which they play by Vegas rules, no cell phones, no evidence, what could possibly go wrong, well it is a horror movie.

The story centers around an all-out raucous party on the beach in honor of a pre-spring break, and the best part the sheer insanity of sexual misdeed and excessive drinking forebode the impending doom of the group. This all plays out with fuzzy video images of the face drawings on the passed out friends, and even stumbling upon odd items found on the beach. By the next morning, a handful of partygoers remain, and piles of towels spread around the area, leaving a mystery for the remaining ones. Who are scattered but remain nearby, a lifeguard station, a convertible parked on the beach near the sand dunes, also one in a metal barrel and lastly a topless woman sprawled on a picnic-like table, each with incredible devastating hangovers. The movie wastes no time setting in motion the killing cycle, with the topless woman, touching the sand and stuck and suck into it, while another character runs to her aid only to have a lovely CGI death as the sand suckles itself to their bare flesh and drinks them both down within minutes. Although, the film does not become ideal, misfiring the remaining survivors, working together to assist each other in the struggles and especially Gilbert (Cleo Berry, from Zombie Apocalypse (2011)) crammed into the barrel, as they learn of the beasts under the sand. At first they use frozen hotdogs to determine the size and boundaries from that imprison them, however they throw one in the direction of the dunes, which are right behind both the car and station. The likely reasoning, the one location shoot, with extreme budget constraints, and that the film pads the running excessively, and using methods from Tremors (1990), movement on the sands ensures death.  Actress Brooke Butler, holds a commanding grip of her character Kaylee, who some horror fans will recall her role in All Cheerleaders Die (2013), gives the entire can-do mentality. Later in the movie, we have, the extended cameo appearance of Jamie Kennedy most noted for his role in Scream (1996).

These characters do bring tension, to the film with the car bumper stunt, and wonderful diversion to the impending doom, and then adding into the mix the rivalry of Kaylee and Chanda (Meagan Holder) gives the initial thought of standoffish position of these two, seems existed for quite some time, a great sell to the viewers. In addition, the killing brings wonderment to the movie, and yet the box art does give away much to the entire movie. Now, a downside comes from every time the film generates tension, which a horror movie definitely requires the tempo becomes altered between Kaylee and Jonah (Dean Geyer) using the time to discuss relationship issues while attempting to cross the dangerous sand on surf boards. Any viewer only wants to yell, stop it, and focus on the next feeding time and allow to dwindling down the cast to final survivors. The movie tries to improve of the beach horror movies, especially the ones not involving sharks and stay mainly on the beach, most notably director Jeffrey Bloom’s Blood Beach (1980) that had a tagline of “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water – you can’t get to it”.

A frustration sets in for the horror fans, as the plot works well, but limits itself not with cast, but the options , a long hot day in the sun, cheapness sets in, struggles with what to do next, while entertainment level remains high and the constant warning “don’t touch the sand” drones on endlessly. The CGI extends from the blood loss, yummy moments, to final revelation of the creature, with an interesting light show of a tentacle, and this discovery before even turning on the movie thanks to the exposure of the DVD artwork. This movie works well with special effects, superior to that of the SyFy network, and yet struggles to design a frightening monster to live up the horrors already produced. Gabaeff follows the rules for keep the monster hidden to last moments possible and what you don’t see scares more, however the same for the ratcheting up the tension, by the final act, if none exists one can’t just whip it together on the spot.

The Sand, has a solid outing, and leaves the door open for a sequel, as it effectively produces minor jolts and nails the T&A especially with the women wearing bikinis, and pouring the in the creature’s vampire thirst for blood as nutrients. Therefore, if one needs a refreshing reminder the horrors of the beach lives brings then enjoy this film as a double feature with Blood Beach.

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