The Sand plays like Tremors by way of Adam Green’s Frozen, as a group of spring break partygoers are left stranded on a beach when the sand develops a taste for human flesh.
Flash back to the night before and we’re led around the beach party in question; back flipping dudes here, boob-flashing girls there. Spring break 101, then? Wrong! Things take a turn for the weird as two of the boozers drag an alien-looking beach blob towards the campfire. Not that anyone seems all that interested and back we go to the morning, with four of the partiers camped out in a convertible, two more asleep in the lifeguard’s hut, one unfortunate guy wedged in a trashcan and one of the girls laid out on a bench.
And it’s said benchwarmer that makes the first move, sliding her toes into the unassuming sand . . . to never see them again as she’s slowly pulled under. She’s followed by one of the other characters throwing himself out onto the beach to rescue her. He suffers a similar fate, in what turns out to be the highlight of the gory thrills because, as the film builds up to its finale, cheap-looking CGI effects quash any sense of threat the film builds up in those early scenes.
Admittedly, single location thrillers are tough to pull off (the aforementioned Frozen being one of the standouts alongside the Ryan-Reynolds-in-a-coffin movie, Buried). Pacing is important and problem-solving sequences have to be well thought through so the audience don’t immediately jump three steps ahead, and Isaac Gabaeff’s script does a solid, albeit unexceptional, job of this. Most of the clichéd ‘dumb’ moments are balanced out by a handful of tense survival scenes and a welcome sense of progression, but the characters’ poor decision-making is still an issue.
The script also sags at times. While the film’s sense of humour just about shines through, the unfolding teen drama (boyfriend stealing accusations etc.) is tiresome. I suppose there has to be some kind of interpersonal drama to plug the gore-less gaps, but this stuff really is spring break 101. At one point, one of the exasperated characters asks, ‘guys, seriously, do we really need to talk about this now?’ I couldn’t agree more.
Kudos to Gabaeff and his team for taking flesh-eating sand so seriously, but ultimately the film is severely handicapped by a reliance on subpar CG effects. This glorified game of hot lava does have its shares of thrills, but unfortunately they’re not enough to rank The Sand anywhere close to the best of the one-location-survival subgenre.
The Sand is out now on UK VOD services via FrightFest Presents with a DVD release on April 25th.
Screener and images provided by Fetch Publicity. Thank you!