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Film Review: It Stains the Sands Red @ FrightFest 2017


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Post-apocalyptic zombie thriller It Stains the Sands Red is a totally bizarre zombie movie which yo-yos between bearable and unwatchable.

From the offset it’s clear this zombie flick is far from one of the higher budget films released this year. However, that isn’t an excuse for a below-par film which really drags.

It Stains the Sands Red begins in the midst of a zombie apocalypse as the bitter couple of Molly (Brittany Allen) and Nick (Merwin Mondesir) drive through the desert in an attempt to meet their friends at an airfield.

When Molly finds herself needing to throw up as a result of cocaine and vodka on the journey, Nick pulls over into the sand, which gets the car totally stuck and puts their journey to a halt.

It has to be said, that despite the totally awkward and unnatural interaction between the couple which starts the film, the initial introduction to the zombie apocalypse is actually quite cool.

In the distance a man in a suit is seen limping quite rapidly towards the pair; it’s chilling to say the least, and just like that we’re thrown into the apocalyptic world of zombies.

However after an “incident” involving Nick and the zombie sees Molly left to fend for herself, the real narrative of the film gets going.

Molly powers on through the desert by foot (in some seriously impractical clothing), in an attempt to get to the airfield. Not before long she releases she is not alone, and is being pursued by the same zombie who killed her boyfriend. This chapter of the narrative is actually quite enjoyable initially. Brittany Allen is a capable actress, while unfortunately finding herself in a below- average film, but is very suited to the role.

Her attitude towards her predicament is by no means admirable, but her absolute foul mouth and extreme anger towards the zombie (Juan Riedinger) which she names Small Dick (Smalls for short), does prove to be a source of laughs and her frustration is palpable.

However, Molly’s pursuit in the desert drags out for far too long, relying on repetitive scenes with Smalls in which she finds herself in a number of close encounters with the flesh eating zombie. But when it really gets weird is when she actually finds herself attached to Smalls, actually talking to him, disciplining him and wanting to keep him “alive” (even though he’s already dead).

The attempt to conjure up emotion from this relationship is totally superficial and basically really dumb. Other attempts at an emotional parallel storyline come from Molly’s flashbacks of a child and the discovery that she had to give her child to her sister to look after. This becomes her motivation to stay alive, but for some reason only about half way through the film.

The film attempted to make her journey through the desert the catalyst for her epiphany which made her release her love for her child. However, one thing this film doesn’t do well is emotion, considering she doesn’t even dwell on the fact that she watched her boyfriend get eaten alive by Smalls (I know they weren’t keen on each other, but come on, wouldn’t that scar you a bit?).

However, while it lacks quality in the narrative and screenplay, the settings are pretty impressive. With most of the film set in the desert, finally getting to see the effects of the zombie outbreak on the air field and Molly’s home town is the kind of stuff we should have seen more of. Similarly, Molly’s physical effects from her time in the desert are really spot on and shocking.

And again, there are scenes which just underline that the film had potential to be more. One scene where Molly hides for her life behind a shower curtain is painfully tense and exactly the kind of tension that the whole film needed.

In addition, saying something is ‘unrealistic’ in a film set in a zombie apocalypse seems unfair. But when a film is claiming that the circumstances are real, everything else needs to feel real too. And Molly’s overall attitude, actions, and most of all, her interactions with Smalls, are unrealistic and that massively lowers the film’s quality almost instantly.

It Stains the Sands Red screams awkward, cringe and unnatural for most of the runtime, and for that, it’s really hard to endure for all the wrong reasons.

It Stains the Sands Red screened as part of FrightFest 2017's schedule.

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