The Sand (2015)

The Sand first published by TwitchFilm

The morning after a night of hardy partying on a secluded beach, several co-eds awaken not just to the usual hangovers, erotic regrets, post-prank headaches and relationship recriminations, but also to the realisation that all their other friends have mysteriously vanished, and that, beneath the sand that surrounds them, something unseen and hungry is waiting. And so, amidst bitching and bickering, they are forced to take a few premature steps closer to the death that all their adolescent promise has so far kept at bay. In this littoral setting between land and sea, we witness the confrontation of youth and eternity, see nubile skin peeled from bone, and are not sure whether to laugh or cry (well, ok, we’re pretty sure it’s laugh) as crapulous, overweight Gilbert (Cleo Berry), “stuck in a goddam trash can” as part of a practical joke from the night before, must face the prospect of dying with a penis still drawn on his face.

Life's a beach, and hangs by a thread...
Life’s a beach, and hangs by a thread…

Where Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers turned the ephemeral rites de passage of horny, drugged-up college students into a melancholic mantra of excess and mortality, from the same essential ingredients Isaac Gabaeff’s The Sand weaves a dumb-assed creature feature that feels like the director’s calling card for future work with the SyFy Channel or The Asylum. Think Blood Beach (1981) or Sand Sharks (2011), except with the focus, presumably for budgetary reasons, less on the “jelly fish x1000” below, and far more on a band of gormless, uninteresting characters whom we secretly long to watch becoming monster fodder rather than seeing them in their adult years. They squabble, engage in literal (and metaphorical) sausage tossing, and struggle in vain to carry out the most basic of activities without being able so much as to touch the ground, all to a hilariously over-the-top Hitchcockian score by Vincent Gillioz. Yet even as what lies in wait beneath may surface as a venomous bioluminescent bundle of Lovecraftian tentacles, it is also the doom that eventually, inevitably awaits all tender flesh. Or as one gormlessly lovesick partygoer (Meagan Holder) says of her holiday fling, grimly aware how fleeting is the spring(break)time of existence: “I wanted the fairytale even if it was just for a minute.”

Anton Bitel