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Review: The Sand

The Sand
3 10

PLOT: Eight hung-over college students wake up on the beach after a wild spring break party, only to discover that their churning stomachs are the least of their concerns. A mysterious egg has hatched and a monster now lives under the sand, ready to instantly devour anybody who sets foot on it. They find themselves trapped on inedible materials: a lifeguard stand, a broken down car, a picnic table, and a trash can.

REVIEW: If I told you a decade ago that Jamie Kennedy would star in two sand monster movies released within a week of each other, and that the better one would have “5” in the title, you would think I’d gone out of my mind. But life throws us curveballs. You can change along with it or you can watch THE SAND. The flick does have its charms, but it’s got absolutely nothing you haven’t seen before. Despite its obvious plot parallels with the 1980 pic BLOOD BEACH, THE SAND isn’t content to remind you of just one measly film. It has the small-scale peril of FROZEN, the twenty-something survival attempts of THE RUINS, and the airbrushed cast of The Hills.

The performances range from exhaustingly shrill to competently forgettable, but it’s not like the actors were hired for anything more than filling out a set of bathing suits. This is no slight against the performers themselves (well, most of them), but the producers cast Dean Geyer (Glee), Meagan Holder (BRING IT ON: FIGHT TO THE FINISH), and Cynthia Murell to flex their abs or lean over various objects with their breasts straining against tight bikini tops. That’s all they’re asked to do and they do it very well. Brooke Butler (ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE) is the only actor with legitimate horror cred, unless you count Mitchell Musso’s stint on Hannah Montana. She somewhat manages to break free with a decent Final Girl-esque character, but it’s way too little way too late.

If you’re a fan of enormous chests (on women or men), you’ll certainly find something to occupy you during this movie. However, THE SAND’s priorities as a horror flick fall by the wayside somewhere around the time that Geyer rubs sunblock on Holder’s back while discussing survival tactics. An obnoxious minor key score wallpapered over everything does not a scary movie make, and there’s almost nothing else that even vaguely attempts to frighten. THE SAND goes through the motions of a survival thriller, but any tension is eviscerated by the cookie cutter plot beats that are about as predictable as your next trip to the bathroom.

This far from spine-chilling effect is made even worse by CGI that wouldn’t pass muster in a Myst game. It’s hard to drum up enthusiasm for a monster that looks like a couple dozen wriggling sperms, or infrequent gore sequences in which body parts transform into two-dimensional cartoons before half-heartedly spurting pixelated blood. The sub-SyFy effects are understandable considering the budget they were working with, but THE SAND might have been saved if they’d dialed back the bloody ambition in favor of a 50’s B-movie atmosphere.

On paper, the flick sounds awesome. Come on! It’s THE FLOOR IS LAVA: THE MOVIE. Having bikini vixens sneak around between safe points to avoid getting sucked into the sand sounds like a damn memorable night at the movies. With less focus on rendering half-assed carnage and more of an uncomplicated INVADERS FROM MARS quicksand vibe, THE SAND would have been far less modern but light years more entertaining. Of course, it would still be stuck with a director that loves to spend 8 minutes on moments that should last 30 seconds, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I mentioned “charms” earlier, and I won’t leave you hanging without bringing another one to the fore. There is a handful of amusing action movie style quips scattered here and there, and the character of Jonah (who is trapped in a trash can like a vulgar Oscar the Grouch) is a welcome sarcastic voice of reason. Though Jamie Kennedy’s appearance totally obliterates the overall self-serious tone, it’s still funny enough to earn a few yuks. So, bikinis and laffs. It ain’t much, but it’s enough to survive. If you’re a hardened SyFy veteran, you might have a thick enough skin to enjoy THE SAND as the boob delivery system that it is. Otherwise, plant your umbrella on another shore.

Extra Tidbit: You can dig up THE SAND on DVD on October 13th!

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