Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 1

Did I do this last year – short write-ups of all the horror films that I watch during October? I feel like I did this last year. Or maybe it was 2018, because TE was just coming back from the grave around this time last year.

Anyway! Halloween! Movies! Let’s go!

~ The Sand ~

So I downloaded this app called Tubi recently. It’s like Netflix, except it’s free and you just have to watch a 15-second ad once in a while. Not a problem, for unlimited free content. The other advantage of Tubi is that it’s got like a billion horror movies from all of time, not just a handful from the last three or four years like Netflix.

On the night of October 1st, I was so eager to sit down and peruse the list – and peruse I did! It’s almost a curse how many movies they have available. You just keep scrolling, and it just keeps going. I spent at least half an hour browsing before I finally settled on The Sand, and another half-hour after the credits rolled. But that’s enough of a tangent. Let’s talk about this film!

Well, “film” is not the best word to describe it. Makes it sound too legitimate. This one is definitely a movie. The Sand lands directly in my wheelhouse as a monster movie, and interestingly, it’s a monster movie where you never really get a good look at the monster. But again, that makes it sound too legitimate. You don’t ever see the creature in this movie because what little special effects are present are bad. I think that the director knew this, and smartly decided that he’d keep them to a minimum. Also I don’t think that anyone ever wrote a real explanation for the creature, so there probably isn’t actually anything to show anyway. But now I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

The Sand isn’t a good movie, but you know what, I genuinely enjoyed it. The plot goes something like: a bunch of troublesome youths gather on a beach for a wild party, and wake up in the morning to discover that the sand itself will devour anything that steps in it. A couple of them are trapped on the lifeguard station, four more in a car, one on a picnic table, and one more wakes up lodged halfway into a steel drum. None of them are particularly memorable or even two-dimensional, but they do a serviceable job of being panicked in a seemingly hopeless situation while struggling to find a solution. I actually found myself rooting for the token bimbo, who turned out to probably be the closest to a well-developed character in the bunch. Shame that she had the most lackluster death.

Well, second-most lackluster. We don’t even get to see the picnic table girl die. She just sort of gets her feet stuck in the sand, and then the focus shifts to the sand eating one of the guys, and picnic table girl is completely forgotten. By both the characters and the filmmakers. That’s how little anyone cared about this project.

So the main conflict of this movie is that the beach itself is eating people. “But why?” asks the astute cinephile. We don’t really know. In the opening scenes, it’s shown that some of the kids find a big Ivan Ooze egg somewhere nearby, and bring it over to the party. In the morning, it’s cracked open and the sand is swallowing anyone who touches it. Eventually our heroes notice that it’s not actually the sand, but rather something underneath the sand, pulling its victims down below with innumerable tiny, poisonous tentacles. It’s also smart, as it pushes around objects that the kids try to use to get across the sand. And also the tentacles grow exceedingly fast, being nearly invisible in the morning, but having become truly huge and monstrous by nightfall. Like I said, it’s not exactly the most well-defined monster out there. Someone just wanted to write a movie about a beach that eats people, but couldn’t just leave it at that.

Presumably the thing is some kind of mutant jellyfish, but we may never know for sure. The best we get is a fleeting shot of a pile of trash “swimming” through the water at the conclusion.

As unlikely as it sounds, I think The Sand hooked me with it’s ridiculous but unique premise. I was admittedly very curious about how the characters would overcome this unusual threat. Although, like any horror movie worth it’s salt, each clever idea was tempered by an impossibly stupid action. I think that what really helped it was that the plot was kept simple and vague, meaning you never get lost, but also have the opportunity to wonder about what was truly going on beneath the sand.

Anyway, the point is I kinda liked The Sand, and even though I was engaged enough to not fall asleep while watching it, I wouldn’t recommend it. Like, they were on the right track to make something decent enough (for a horror movie about a beach that eats people), it just didn’t quite come together. It’s not nearly enough of a train wreck to watch ironically, either. Oh well, maybe next week will have better results.


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