DIRECTOR: Colin Minihan
As the zombie apocalypse begins in the city of Las Vegas. A troubled woman and her gangster boyfriend who are driving through the desert get their car get lodged in the sand. Going nowhere fast, all Hell breaks loose when a lone zombie manages to find them and kill her boyfriend. Molly must now fight for survival against a zombie on her trail and the harsh Vegas desert bearing down on her.
In today's current horror climate, the zombie film is no longer a rarity. With at least four hugely successful TV shows and a slew of zombie films making their way onto DVD or cinema screens, they are very much a part of today's popular culture. You can't swing an axe without knocking over at least one or two zombie movies every month. So It Stains The Sands Red, welcome to the overpopulated chopping block.
I'll be the first to admit that It Stains The Sands Red felt pretty refreshing when being compared to a lot of other zombie films. Gone are the huge desolate city street shots and hordes of flesh-eating zombies that we've all come to know and love and they've been replaced with only a handful of characters and a harsh and unforgiving desert setting. This is one of the more low-key zombie films that I think I've seen in recent years and for that, I think I enjoyed it more than I thought I would before seeing it.
After watching It Stains The Sands Red. I feel like this could've been the next chapter in the undead life of Bub the Zombie from George A. Romero's Day Of The Dead. If he had escaped the underground compound and roamed the desert in search of human flesh. Some of his intelligence may have subsided due to years of roaming a desolate landscape without much sustenance. This is just my fun little theory as I thought the zombie character of Smalls showed signs of intelligence and emotion and I really liked that about this film.
Now we come to the character of Molly. A troubled woman with a dark past. At first, I thought she was annoying. As the film went on, I started to really like her. I thought that even though some of her methods of escaping death were pretty disgusting, she was still resourceful and pretty smart. There is one scene involving a tampon that is easily one of the most stomach-churning scenes in the film and now joins Tonight She Comes in delivering one of the more disturbing scenes in a horror involving a bloody tampon and menstruation.
What I really found myself enjoying over the course of the film was the relationship between Molly and Smalls. What starts out as sheer terror and survival, slowly grows into something resembling a friendship. I like that they both relied on each other and after a while, they can't see their existence going on if the other one isn't around. It almost felt like a Stockholm Syndrome sort of situation happening. I do like that the filmmakers also kept the threat of Smalls being a monster who may turn on Molly. It kept that sense of uncertainty around the entire time.
Now, this movie isn't without its issues. The first being that early on, Molly could have done away with Smalls many times. We see her character hop up onto rocks and onto higher ground to escape his clutch. With so many huge rocks around and at a serious advantage, why not just bust his skull open eliminating the threat? We wouldn't have had a movie if she had taken that route, but it would've saved her a lot of energy and time had she just killed him early on. She would've been able to focus on other things other than that flesh-eating zombie that is after her.
We also witness several characters who come into contact with Molly and Smalls. We have annoying army officers, the band of highway criminals who end up raping Molly in a pretty nasty little scene and several others who come and go without much of an introduction. Besides Molly and Smalls, we aren't given much in the way of character development, so we don't have anyone to root for besides our two main characters. Even with flashbacks to Molly's past and the ending, I didn't care for her finding her son or even if he was alive or dead.
Visually, I found It Stains The Sand Red to be rather impressive for such a low budget Zombie movie. I think they used their desert location well and got the most out it. We get a lot of gorgeously scenic landscape shots. I think they also used a lot of creative drone angles from above. The opening pan through Las Vegas was very memorable. I also thought that the make-up effects in the film were well done. One scene involving a zombie chewing off someone's face was incredibly well done.
Lastly, when it comes to the acting, I thought the acting was pretty impressive. So at first, it took me a while to warm up to Brittany Allen. Her character comes across as pretty annoying and abrasive at first, but as the film goes on, I started to really enjoy her resourcefulness. I think by the time the film finds its rhythm, I wanted to see this woman survive. Juan Riedinger as Smalls, the zombie, gives us a lot of emotion under all that zombie makeup. I found that I also cared for his character.
DEATH TOLL: 7
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A zombie is shot in the chest and neck.
- A man has his neck torn out by a zombie.
- A zombie chews on a man's intestines.
- A zombie eats a bloody tampon.
- We see a burnt and charred corpse.
- A man is seen with his brains bashed in by a rolling pin.
- A woman uses a power drill to drill right through a zombies forehead.
- A woman severs her infected finger with a rock.
- A zombie has its face bashed in with a wrench.
- A zombie has its head crushed with a rock.
- A woman is raped.
- A man's neck and face are ripped open by a zombie.
While It Stains The Sands Red has its issues with questionable character decisions, little to no character development for any of the supporting characters and our lead going from one scenario to another without much of a plot, this still felt refreshing in a sub-genre that feels incredibly oversaturated. A low budget zombie film with plenty of neat visual tricks and some solid gore. It's a testament to the writers on have us caring for an actual zombie just as much as our heroine. I recommend this just for something different when it comes to the zombie film.