M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2016 and going through September 30, 2017. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on July 28, 2017! Available On Demand, digital download, & DVD here from Dark Sky Films! Also streaming on Amazon Prime!
IT STAINS THE SANDS RED (2016)
Directed by Colin Minihan
Written by Colin Minihan, Stuart Ortiz
Starring Brittany Allen, Juan Riedinger, Merwin Mondesir, Kristopher Higgins, Andrew Supanz, Michael Filipowich, Nico David, Dylan Playfair, Max Christensen, Kyle McCachen, Steve Judkins, Warren E. Thomas
Find out more about this film here, @itstainsthesandsred, and on Facebook here
These days it takes a little something extra to make a zombie movie stand out and be recognized apart from the herd. It takes a strong idea or an interesting take or even some strong performances. There are a lot of zombie films to choose from out there and let’s face it, most of them are shit rehashes of the same story. Well, IT STAINS THE SANDS RED is different from the rest of those films in a lot of ways. Sure it features a world overcome by the walking dead, but what makes it stand out is a powerful story, a unique situation, and a powerful take on character.
The world is ending and zombies walk the earth, but Molly (Brittany Allen) and her boyfriend Nick (Merwin Mondesir) have a plan to hop on a plane and get away from civilization. But on their drive out to an airport in the middle of the desert, their car gets stuck and Nick gets used as a chew toy by a zombie. Looking for more to chomp on, the zombie goes after Molly, who packs up as much water as she can carry and heads off into the desert for a 30-mile hike to the airfield and a hope for a zombie free life. But Molly finds out that the zombie has followed her and continues to follow her relentlessly. And while Molly must stop and rest occasionally, the zombie (who she has dubbed Smalls, played by Juan Riedinger) doesn’t need to. This proves to be problematic once Molly is in the middle of the desert with a famished zombie on her tail and a whole lot of desert ahead of her.
What makes IT STAINS THE SANDS RED is the story structure. For the most part, this is a very slow and arduous chase scene as a woman staggers through the desert with a single zombie in pursuit, also slowly staggering. It’s the type of premise that should be boring as fuck, but filmmaker Colin Minihan, along with his co-writer Stuart Ortiz manage to fill the film with enough action sequences, gloppy moments of gore, and strong character moments to make every second resonate making this slow pursuit through the desert a true nail-biter.
This film really excels in the metaphor department as Molly begins to form an attachment to Smalls during her trek through the desert. Molly seems able to keep a few steps ahead of Smalls, but only if she keeps moving. But when she is given a chance to leave her undead pursuer, it becomes hard as Molly has left behind so much already, including a toddler son. It takes a lot to make one care for a snarling zombie, but this film is able to achieve just that. IT STAINS THE SANDS RED has a beating heart that I wasn’t expecting and really managed to pull on my heartstrings by the end of it. This is mainly due to the powerful acting by Brittany Allen who is a powerhouse in this film—playing a character we shouldn’t like but can’t help but sympathize with due to the predicament she finds herself in. It takes real chops to make one care for a drug addict mother who leaves her child, but Allen is able to achieve just that.
IT STAINS THE SANDS RED is going to surprise a lot of folks who take a chance on it. Sure there are a lot of zombie movies out there, but that doesn’t mean that all of them are bad. This one takes the zombie threat and makes it an intimate ordeal with huge personal stake. It bares away all of the excess matter that occupies most zombie films and just gets to the good stuff. There’s some great gore and a fantastic zombie performance by Riedinger as Smalls. There’s also a badass, yet flawed lead that is worth rooting for. IT STAINS THE SANDS RED has it all. See it.
THE 2016-2017 COUNTDOWN!
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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