It Stains the Sands Red (2017)

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In the throes of a zombie apocalypse, Molly, a troubled woman from Las Vegas, finds herself stranded in the desert with a lone ravenous zombie on her trail. At first, she's easily able to outpace her undead pursuer, but things quickly become a nightmare when she realizes the zombie doesn't need to ever stop and rest. Running low on supplies and beat down by the harsh environment, Molly will have to summon the strength she never knew she had to ultimately face both the zombie and the demons that have chased her all her life. The film will play this year's LA Film Festival and will be released in theaters by MPI Media Group's genre division, Dark Sky Films in Summer 2017

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Critic Reviews for It Stains the Sands Red

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (3)

Begins as unpersuasive horror, then segues into annoyance-based comedy before veering in stranger directions.

Jul 28, 2017 | Full Review…

Watchable if never really scary or funny enough to leave a memorable impression, this middling endeavor should nonetheless pull in a fair number of home-viewing horror fans with its offbeat theme and lurid title.

Jul 27, 2017 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

Like a dog turd lurking in the middle of a jelly doughnut, a needless, brutal rape scene poisons the whole experience.

Jul 27, 2017 | Full Review…

An inventive update to an over-saturated market, It Stains the Sand Red stands away from the pack and is certain to become a genre classic in years to come.

Aug 29, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

a fresh, smart and funny tale of undead survival, feminist awakening, emerging necrophilia and maternal redemption.

Jun 10, 2018 | Full Review…

In an era of peak zombie, it's rare to find a variation on horror's current favourite sub-genre that feels fresh and intriguing.

Sep 20, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for It Stains the Sands Red

½

Of course, what would be a monthly horror fest without, at least, one zombie movie. And that word, at least nowadays, seems to be like a four-letter word (even though it, obviously has more than that). What I mean is that the word has a negative connotation as a result of the fact that, thanks to The Walking Dead, the zombie genre has pretty much taken every form of media by storm. It's understandable that people would, honestly, be a little tired of the genre, because I am fairly tired of zombies myself, but that's not to say that I'm not gonna give a movie a shot just because it happens to have zombies in it. As I've always said, I welcome originality and subversion of usual genre tropes. And this is in general in horror, not just for zombie movies, but I feel that zombie movies probably needs more of it than any other horror subgenre. So, getting to this film, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I did watch the trailer and I thought it was actually a really cool concept. What I mean is that the movie made it seem that Molly, the lead character, was stranded in the desert and she was being hunted down by a single zombie. And I thought that that was actually a really fresh approach to the genre. I don't wanna say it's small-scale, but it is a smaller story. A story about a woman trying to outrun ONE zombie in the desert. And, at the same time, I thought it was also cool in how they were gonna transform the desert, which is obviously vast and desolate, into a claustrophobic setting given that the zombie, that Molly affectionately names Smalls, is after her all the time. No matter where she goes, Smalls is right there with her. So, as vast as the desert is, if you can't get away from the zombie, then that vastness really becomes irrelevant. But, much to my surprise, while the movie certainly has some of what I mentioned, I think the movie veers completely different than what I would have ever anticipated. And I mean that in the most complimentary manner possible because, in all honesty, I thought this was a really good, interesting and fresh take on the zombie genre. Perhaps it's not gonna be the type of movie that revitalizes the genre, but it is different. It's not even just that it's different, because that doesn't always equal good, but this movie is very good. The strange thing about this movie is that it juggles a variety of different genres while, mainly, using a horror frame. In some ways, at least at first, this is a buddy comedy with Molly having back and forths with Smalls. Well, really, it's more backs than forths, but you get my point. Then it's a road movie, as Molly is walking 36 miles through the desert, after the car she was in broke down, in order to get to this airfield in order to get a flight out of the country since, obviously, the zombie apocalypse has started. At the same time, in some ways, it's a coming-of-age movie. Molly is obviously an adult at the start of the film's events, but she is also an irresponsible person who gave up her son to her sister, since she was better at taking care of the kid than Molly was. Molly is obviously a very troubled woman, as she's clearly got a drug addiction and, essentially, she can't take care of herself. So, in her current state, she is not someone who's equipped to take care of a, supposedly, five-year-old boy. But the thing about Molly is that the film never sets out to make her look like an awful person for doing what she did. Yes, she has a drug addiction but, at the very least, she realized that her son was better off with someone else as opposed to with her. Regardless, the movie uses Molly's burgeoning friendship with Smalls, even to the point where Smalls starts listening to her commands, to tell this story Molly's story of maturation and coming to the realization that she needs to grow up and do right by her son. Not to mention the fact that the care she took of Smalls, basically, showed her that she did have what it takes to be a good mother. Smalls is, essentially, a metaphor for Molly's own son and they even look similar. So, in a way, the movie surprised with how character-driven it was because, essentially, Molly and Smalls really are the only prominent characters in the entire movie and Molly, obviously, gets the most dialogue. And, to Brittany Allen's (Molly) credit, she does a phenomenal job in this movie. The script is very strong, yes, but I don't think Molly is as strong of a character without Brittany Allen's dedicated performance. Brittany makes the character sympathetic in spite of all her perceived faults. Making mistakes doesn't make someone a bad person, as I'm sure some people believe, but Molly is very much haunted by the guilt of what, she feels, was abandoning her son. And her son does kind of see it that way, mostly because he doesn't know any better, but I feel that, again, in her own way, Molly was trying to protect her son. So I was definitely a big fan of that approach to this character. And, again, Brittany Allen is excellent in this movie, so that helps quite a lot. I'm not saying that the movie is perfect, but it is a very good and emotionally resonant movie in more ways than I was expecting. But the movie is also funnier than I would have expected. There's this scene early one where Molly, attempting to play 'fetch' with Smalls, just so he would leave her alone, takes out her bloodied tampon and throws it away in the distance. Smalls goes after it, attempts to eat it and, after a while, is apparently not pleased with the taste of this blood, so he spits the tampon out in disgust. The discussions that Molly has early on with Smalls are also funny in how, again, Molly plays it off as if Smalls is actually replying to what she said and, as mentioned earlier, there's a bit of a back and forth between them. This is a very surprising movie in many ways. There does come a moment where, after Smalls is shot through the knee, that Molly, essentially, has to put him down, so that obviously leads to Molly continuing on on her own. You might think that the movie loses something with Smalls' "death", but it really doesn't. I think, in many ways, and as cheesy as this sounds, Smalls ended up helping Molly turn her life around in a way, helping her realize what's really important and to stop being so selfish. Having said that, though, there is one unfortunate rape scene in the movie. Honestly, rape scenes are touchy, and I'm not saying that, inherently, they cannot work in any type of movie, but I don't feel that it works in this movie. While you could make the argument that it is the impetus for Molly starting to see Smalls in a different way, as Smalls killed the guy (an escaped convict) that was raping her while the other (another convict) drove off in a stolen truck, it's not like rape was the only way you could have gotten to this same point. She could have been physically assaulted or something. See, it's THAT easy. Honestly, it's just not to the benefit of the movie that much, so it feels kind of exploitative. And this is for a movie where, some scenes, are ripped straight from 70s exploitation flicks, down to one scene even going for the grainy footage. Regardless, with that aside, I still greatly enjoyed this movie. I feel that this is a massively underrated horror movie. It's got a strong central character, an emotionally resonant story and excellent acting. I was aware of this movie, having seen it on Amazon a few times here and there while browsing, but I never once really looked up much info on it. I saw the trailer for the first time yesterday, a few hours prior to watching it. I can't believe that I actually let this slip under my radar for as long as I did. It's not that old of a movie, mind you, but still, I should have watched this sooner than I did. More to the point, however, I'm very glad that I did end up watching this, even if it flew under most people's radars. I would happily recommend this movie. Maybe not if you're a casual horror fan and you want something to 'scare' you. This isn't that movie, but I'd recommend it to horror geeks looking for something fresh in the zombie subgenre.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

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