It Stains the Sands Red
Dir: Colin Minihan
USA, 92 min.
Just revisited this one again, and I feel that I need to post some thoughts that I initially posted on Letterboxd about this one.
Well, not really spoilers, but sort of if you have seen other films by the same director that I'm gonna talk about...
I thought I had an idea of what I might be getting myself into as I started to watch this one, but to tell you the truth I was surprised to find a really good piece of apocalyptic storytelling here. A shot of freshness that brings back hope for a genre that’s overstayed it’s welcome and sunk into repeat mode making it stand out amongst zombie films.
Although despite bringing a bunch of zombie flick tropes which kind of are required of the genre with it, It Stains the Sands Red also brings a bunch of interesting things to the zombie-apocalypse-table that I’m surprised nobody ever did previously. Big fucking kudos to the filmmakers for doing so, as some will be put completely off the movie when it get’s into menstrual bleeding and lack of tampon panic and that what follows. It’s a slice of life as a woman in the zombie apocalypse that I’ve never seen before.
Basically the premise goes something like this, Molly (Brittany Allen), a Vegas stripper with an appetite for cocaine, finds herself stranded in the middle of the desert on her way to an airstrip that could be a possible escape from the budding apocalypse. Left with no other choice to but walk, she sets off right through the desert in direction of the airstrip... But a lone zombie targets her, and shuffles along right after her, through the sands.
Don’t expect a gun-toting female lead in the vein of Resident Evil; this is the anti-thesis of Alice. Think of it as a The Battery meets Swiss Army Man meets The Road kind of thing.
It’s a much more down to earth approach to classic zombie apocalyptic horror, you won’t get the classic bullet to head and squirty-squirty action. It get’s there, but it takes it’s time and trust me there are moments that will make you cringe and it’s not the menstruation thing. I realized I had my fingers stuck in my ears during the build up to one specific moment and with PlotDigger (that’s Meg and Ryan Nicholson) providing special effects, you know the red stuff is going to flow (no pun intended). But perhaps above all this this is all about making amends, changing one’s persona, becoming a better person. That’s basically the story here, but set in the apocalypse, with zombies - and it works like a charm. It’s amazing what a chunk of flashbacky-backstory and a bit of character development can do to elevate a movie from ok to brilliant.
Background riff; I quite enjoyed Colin Minihan’s cheap but cheery, Grave Encounters flicks (written/directed with his brother Stuart Ortiz, who co-wrote this one too, as The Vucious Brothers), but I totally hated Extraterrestrial. If you’ve seen that one then lets just leave it at shit ending, waste of characters, totally wrong kind of way to deceive the audience. Not my cup of tea at all. I like investing my time in characters and getting to know them, getting into their head and finding what makes the tick. Well, I’d say that Minihan and Ortiz fucking nail it this time. There’s a splendid character arc, character development and I’m left with a big fucking grin on my face as I, despite the open-ish ending, know that things are all going to be alright because Molly has got her shit together and is up for anything. So take my money and sign me up for a sequel right now.
I think this one just made my top ten of the year selection. Something about it just hit the right spot. I love horror that can make me laugh at its absurdity (without being knowingly comedic), be creepy, gross and also emotional. That’s when you get the real magic. Molly has a fantastic story arc and at the end of the movie I think I’m kinda in love with Molly and this flick.
I have to admit it, this is a fine little indie gem that I'm sure I'm gonna revisit even more times along the way, because you can't ever beat solid storytelling, fun characters and zombie a go-go.