Sun, sea and sand…oh and giant tentacle creatures. The aptly named The Sand is a creature feature written by Alex Greenfield and Ben Powell with director Isaac Gabaeff pulling the reins on a small cast and even smaller budget. There are simply not enough good monster movies out there, especially ones that feature young gorgeous teens wandering around in next to nothing, being picked off by a flesh hungry tentacle beats. And yet, the films meagre budget ruins this films potential, letting it slip under the sand like one of its victims. Yet it still remains a thoroughly engaging and entertaining film.
A bunch of teens wake up on a beach after a hard night of partying in celebration of spring break, only to find that some bloodthirsty creature has embedded itself under the sand. The teens are trapped in various places such as a guard tower and a car, with little supplies and their numbers dwindling as they are slowly picked off by the unseen creature. Through the bickering and sausage throwing (not a euphemism), the group slowly try to escape the clutches of the sand.
The films cast headed by Brooke Butler and Mitchel Musso, try their best to deliver a dull script, that is filled with unbelievable dialogue that is obviously aimed at a younger demographic of adolescent horror lovers. Amongst the films other teeny movie traits is sexual innuendos, toilet humour and a pair of boobs. Whilst I wish that flashing a pair of breasts would make a great movie, it does not, and the films desperation at trying to find an audience is sadly misguided.
The films lighter moments are derived from poor overweight Gilbert (Cleo Berry), who’s the more interesting of the otherwise dull characters in the film. Finding himself stuck in a barrel, as part of a practical joke from the night before, poor Gilbert finds himself contemplating dying in a “trashcan” with a penis drawn on his face! However, the films lack of any real heart makes the entire thing a little tenuous and even a small cameo by Jamie Kennedy fails to improve things.
The films scenario is a bastard hybrid of several movie plots, three films in particular; the Creepshow short The Raft, Tremors and Blood Beach. The Raft sees teens trapped on a small wooden raft on a lake, after a strange flesh-eater creature happens upon them. The Sand replacing the lake for a beach. Similarly, Tremors has an entire town taking to high ground as a bunch of killer worm’s attacks. One scene see’s the survivors leaping from rock to rock in order to avoid the ground. The Sand plays out a similar scenario. However, It’s the thriller Blood Beach, that The Sand takes most of its DNA from. Blood Beach see’s people dragged under the sand by a strange creature that starts using a local beach as hunting ground. The way that victims are dispatched and even one of the films posters pay homage to the brilliant 1980’s creature feature.
All of these films explore the vulnerability of people trapped by some creature. Safety is usually just a stone’s throw away (literally in Sands), but the path to said safety is cut off by the creature’s sudden appearance. The Raft see’s the lake’s Shore line less than a hundred meters from the group, their car visible and blaring out music in a mocking gesture of enticement. Tremors safe haven is the mountains a few miles outside of town and Blood Beach see’s safety off of the titular beach. The Sand’s safety is outside of the creature’s reach, a seemingly short distance from the teens position. It’s laughably silly that such a short distance could possible be that hard to traverse, especially after it’s ascertained that the creature can’t get you if you have shoes, or clothes wrapped around your feet. And yet the entire film plays through without one person making a mad dash for safety.
The fact that you don’t see the creature adds huge amounts of tension to an otherwise dull affair, building the suspense and fear. It works well in a low budget environment, as the films has to rely on characters and dialogue rather than flashy creature effects to keep the audience gripped. However, the dialogue is typical of this type of teen horror, with lots relationship woes and cheap sexual references being the main things these trapped kids find themselves talking about. It’s hard to imagine what you would be chatting about if you were trapped by a hungry unseen beast, but I’m pretty sure it would not be about your boyfriends cheating ways. Yes, he’s a rotten pig, but he’s not a flesh hungry tentacle monster that’s just inches from snacking on your leg. Kids these days just don’t understand priorities.
This blood thirsty creatures pulls its victims down with tiny worm like tentacles, ripping at skin and muscle, turning its victims into a bloody mess. The gore is certainly appealing but badly delivered as a bunch of low budget CG effects. Even some of the simpler effects such as a severed arm, are presented to us with an unrealistic gush of blood. A practical effect would have taken little time to set up and shoot, it would have looked much better too. Considering the lengthy and complex process of producing a CG effect, it’s clear that the filmmakers made some very poor choices whilst producing this film.
Things slide under the sand without any real psychical weight or movement and severed limbs spurt out unrealistic streams of visceral like cut scene from a 1990’s video game. You may think that it’s just nit-picking, but these cheap effects direct attention to them for all the wrong reasons. The effects are obviously CG, and that unnecessarily breaks the fourth wall.
Later in the film we get our first real look at the creature as bunch of Lovecraftian bioluminescent tentacle attempt to grab the fleeing teens. They are pretty much the worst effects I’ve seen outside of an Asylum movie
Despite the films negatives, it does have its charm, and I found myself hooked throughout. Mostly because I wanted to see the creature, and I’d kind of warmed to some of the characters. However, the films ending falls flat and the entire thing was more frustrating than anything else. The film had so much potential to be amazing, but budgetary reasons and poor direction led the film in to the bargain bin sale. Add a little depth to the characters, improve the dialogue and for the love of GOD ditch the CGI and The Sand would have been a pretty impressive film.
- Story 56% 56%
- Scares 24% 24%
- Gore 30% 30%
- Music 15% 15%