Movie Review: The SAND (Blood Sand)

Leave a comment

sand, theMonarch Home Video
2015
TV-14

“This is worse than the woman with the horseshoe crab up her ass.”

If ever there was a quote directly from this movie that encapsulates perfectly the kind of watching experience The Sand was, I would be hard pressed to find anything more on-the-nose than that one. Which is uttered by one Jamie Kennedy, who seemed equally annoyed as he was mystified that he is in this movie. And he was in Son Of The Mask. But, I digress.

I admit, it’s been a while since I’ve viewed a movie of this…caliber. I’ve gone through dry spells where I didn’t really want to watch cheesy B-grade movies, more out of apathy than any kind of shift of taste. The Sand (aka “Blood Sand”, because having multiple working titles is an indication of quality) was one that was, believe it or not, recommended to me by a lovely couple at my church who watched this and immediately thought of me. I’m assuming, actually, but this is something that I would go for. Unfortunately, I was still kinda going through a low ebb in my manic depression, and while I stuck it on my watchlist, I kept coming up with excuses not to watch The Sand. Or do much of anything other than sit and stare at the darkness surrounding me. Such is the nature of depression and all.

Before we begin with this antacid flashback, I want to throw in here that, with a bit of research to the background of this movie, it appears that, besides Blood Sand, there was also some early versions using Killer Beach as the title of the movie. Lovely. Probably would have went with that one, personally, but here we are.

*sigh* Let’s just get the rundown out of the way; I’m already spending too much time dwelling on this flick…

After a raging party on a secluded beach (the flashback of which is shown in Smartphone Video Vision), eight of the remaining partygoers wake up the next morning to find out that if they step on the sand, tendrils whip out and drag them under, eating anything delicious and meaty: Birds, hotdogs, humans. These eight were spared initially because they happened to pass out during the party on things that kept them from touching the sand itself: a picnic table, a convertible car, the lifeguard tower, a garbage can. It’s a situation worthy of inclusion in a Stephen King short story collection. Anyway, after a handful of the survivors, and a persnickety beach patrol guy that’s played by the aforementioned Jamie Kennedy (the only actual acting talent in this whole thing) get eaten by whatever it is that’s lurking in the sand, things are starting to look bleak…and whatever that thing is under the sand seems to be getting bigger…

As modern B-movies go, I have to admit that The Sand wasn’t as painful as I was expecting it to be. Don’t get me wrong; this is a movie that is firmly in the Hilarious For All The Wrong Reasons style of horror flick. The opening scenes do a fairly decent job setting up the plot of the movie, and I understand when we’re dealing with a low budget movie like this, keeping things in one location is one of the ways to keep within the budget.

The problem here is that there’s not enough plot to propel The Sand to a full-length running time. The premise lends itself to a good tight 30- to 45-minute short film; to pad this one out, there’s a lot of arbitrary “tension” scenes, usually involving playing a rousing game of The Floor Is Lava (and just as exciting as watching a game like that in real life), and oh, there’s also a love triangle subplot that is shoehorned in so badly that it grinds the momentum of the plot itself to a halt to remind the viewers that these are people you should totes care for, instead of being a cast of chowderheaded dudebro alpha males and whipped-cream-for-brains scantily clad females that you’ll be rooting to die horribly pretty much from the get-go. Really, the only two salvageable characters here are Jamie Kennedy’s character (of course), because he voices the frustration of the viewers as a surrogate, and the token fat guy who spends the majority of the run time stuck in a garbage can with a dick drawn on his face. I can relate to his pain. Also, he has the best final line before being eaten by the sand monster thing.

Overall, while I don’t hate myself for having watched The Sand (I did get a lot of laughs from this, after all), this VOD offering falls short of the So Bad It’s Good status that affords a recommendation for all to watch more than once. A good once-over for a nice goofy Midnight Flick night, but really that’s all there is to this movie.

Movie Review: BETHANY

Leave a comment

bethanyUncork’d Entertainment
2017
NR

“You’re not just some stinky zombie, honey. You’re my stinky zombie.”

After Claire’s mother dies, she and her husband move back to her childhood home only to have the abusive and traumatic memories of her mother come back and bring unrest to the house. Unfortunately, Claire soon finds herself in a fog of past and present when her imaginary friend from childhood begins haunting her memories. What is this terrifying thing that is trying to reach out to her, and what does it want?

I first heard about the movie Bethany by way of an article on Cracked.com a few months ago. I can’t remember which article it was, as I usually read them first thing in the morning at work while waiting for my shift to start. I do recall, though, the author making a reference to his “friend’s movie” called “Bethany” which was the “best horror movie this year”, or something to that effect. I can’t be bothered to find the actual article for the sake of “accuracy”, so that’s why I’m using “quote marks” on this part. Sorry, not “sorry”. See what I did there? Anyway, because of that mention, I looked into this movie, and when it became available on VOD, I gave it a watch.

As to the claim of Bethany being the “best horror movie” going…no. Maybe, if I’m feeling generous, “watchable”. Certainly not “memorable”, at least not because it was a “good movie”. Let’s get into that, shall we?

So, there’s a lady named Claire, whose mother had just died and willed her the home she grew up in. So, she and her husband (who seems to be the grown-up bully kid in some Christmas movie I’m told I need to see otherwise I’ll die, or something) move in to begin a fresh new chapter in their lives. Only, almost the very moment they do so, Claire begins to experience all sorts of creepy things, things that no one else seems to notice. Then the flashbacks begin, and we see that her mother took her parenting advice from the movie Mommy Dearest. Also, there seems to be a ghoulishly masked apparition of a girl showing up here and there to add to the general wackiness, a girl that Claire seems to recall as being an imaginary friend growing up. Is the haunting real? Or is Claire going slowly insane? And why is Tom Green totally unrecognizable and playing against type?

On the surface, Bethany has some good ideas, and does manage to get a decent cast together (I was totally serious about funnyman Tom Green playing it completely straight here, which completely makes me rethink my opinion of the guy as an actor…while you might say Shannon Doherty is playing to type), and there were moments that, had I not seen them coming, could have been some very effective scares.

And that’s pretty much what regulates Bethany into the realm of “meh”: it’s a bit clunky, has some leaps of logic going on, and while one or two times I found a scene squeamish to watch (especially at the end, that involves a mask and a sewing needle), in the end you get the feeling you just watched a misfired attempt at making a stylistic remake of The People Under The Stairs.

Best Horror Movie of the Year? Er, no. Imaginatively unique? Again, no. Maybe if you’ve never seen a horror movie made before 2005. I don’t know how, but people like this exist. I give Bethany points for trying something different, beyond the general “haunting of…” style. But, the execution itself left something to be desired. Worth at least a watch, at least.