The Sand (2015)

This Beach Is Killer

Writers: Alex Greenfield, Ben Powell
Director: Isaac Gabaeff

The Sand (aka Blood Sand) is trashy monster-eats-teens movie. That’s fine, trash can be fun if done well. But The Sand isn’t.

The film starts with shots of a deserted beach. These are intercut with flashbacks to the night before and a loud, drunken teenage party. The beach scenes are classily filmed and the contrast between the empty silence of the morning and the noisy action of the night before works well. For the first few minutes I actually thought that The Sand might turn out to be a good film.

Oh well, we all make mistakes.

The story proper begins when the main characters wake up; only eight of them, compared with the several dozen who were at the party. They soon discover the reason the others are missing: something is in the sand, eating people. Those who survived are the ones who slept in a car or somewhere else not touching the sand.

It’s soon after this that realisation of the true quality of this film sets in. Two characters die early on. One is mourned for a couple of minutes, the other… forgotten. Not just by the characters but, apparently, by the script writers as well with just one passing reference to her a few minutes later.

From here on it’s basic ‘who dies next’ stuff? The characters can’t escape because they can’t touch the sand. This means the actors don’t have a lot of opportunity for movement; I felt especially sorry for Cleo Berry as Gilbert.

So the set is limited to one small stretch of beach. And because the creature is under the sand, we don’t get to see it except for a few tentacles at the end. Which means that what’s needed is a sense of claustrophobia, tension and ever-present menace.

Unfortunately, that’s the exact opposite of what we get. The Sand tries to emulate a big budget action movie, but fails. It’s not just the lack of budget and the poor script but the paucity of Gabaeff’s direction. He has no sense of atmosphere and his idea of tension seems to be close ups of worried faces screaming over the top of loud music.

At 84 mins, The Sand is still slow and overlong. There’s no build-up, just poor dialogue punctuated by the occasional screaming fit. Attempts to round out the characters by discussing their romantic tribulations simply make things worse.

It all takes itself far too seriously: played for laughs, it might have worked. But apart from one (good) sight gag early on, there’s little to laugh either with or even at. A dreadful script and atmosphere-free direction combine with a lack of self-knowledge to create a truly dire film.