The Sand
"It has a monster and it's going to use it."

There's something under the sand, and it's hungry.

This is a film that gets right to the point. It has a monster and it's going to use it. It also has a bunch of scantily clad Spring Breakers, but there's something about these kids that marks them out from the usual monster fodder. It's that they're smart. Not geniuses, not amazingly educated, but average rational, thinking people who assess their situation in a sensible way and actually do the things that you, the viewer, think they ought to do, instead of just flapping their arms about and squealing uselessly as most characters do in such situations. This makes it a lot easier to care about them and it also gives the film a snappy pace that guarantees lots of monster action.

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If you're a fan of tentacle terror, this might not be quite what you're looking for. Rather than lash out with giant, sucker-covered appendages straight away, the film begins with something much subtler. At first it looks as if the sand is simply swallowing people up - scary enough when our heroes, recovering from the previous night's beach party, realise that everyone who crashed out on the sand itself has disappeared - but sharp-eyed Kaylee (Brooke Butler) soon spots fine cilia reaching up from the surface when she lowers her hand towards it. There's something here reminiscent of John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes and, indeed, the less positive side of being smart in such a situation is that the teenagers soon start speculating about the possible fate of other seafront communities. Despite being so slender as to be almost invisible, the cilia are deadly, seizing hold of anyone who touches the sand and, if unable to pull them downwards in one go, bloodily breaking them apart first.

In these situations, it's usually a loudmouthed male character who takes command, so it's refreshing to see Kaylee do so instead, despite the fact that she's feeling bruised after watching her sometime boyfriend Jonah (Dean Geyer) spend the night snogging somebody else (Meagan Holder's Chanda). Nevertheless, everyone chips in as they try to work out a way to get supplies, help their friend Gilbert (Cleo Berry) who is stuck in a barrel, and, ultimately, get off the beach.

Alongside the action, there are flashbacks to the party, an endearing parody of the kind of Spring Break antics you'll see in films like Piranha 3DD. Here, the roaring campfire is about a foot across and daring transgressions include drawing a dick on Gilbert's face. When a giant, alien looking egg is found on the beach, everyone laughs and tries to find enough wood to burn it. It's the kind of rubbish party any number of us have been to, and its impact is to make the scenario that follows, for all its genre playfulness, seem all too real.

It takes skill to make a cheesy creature feature well. The Sand is much smarter that it looks on the surface. Give it time and it will pull you in.

Reviewed on: 06 Oct 2015
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The Sand packshot
Hungover students waking up on the beach discover that there's a giant alien monster underneath the sand - and it's hungry.

Director: Isaac Gabaeff

Writer: Isaac Gabaeff

Starring: Mitchel Musso, Dean Geyer, Nikki Leigh, Brooke Butler, Meagan Holder

Year: 2015

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: US


Frightfest 2015

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