Director – Isaac Gabaeff, Screenplay – Alex Greenfield & Ben Powell, Producers – Jordan Rosner, Gato Scatena & Jacob Silver, Photography – Matt Wise, Music – Vincent Gillioz, Visual Effects Supervisors – Zach Brinkerhoff & Justin Russell, Visual Effects – Justice FX, Makeup Effects – Nicolette Brockington, Production Design – Marina Abramyan. Production Company – Taylor & Dodge/Scatena & Rosner Films
Brooke Butler (Kaylee), Dean Geyer (Jonah), Meagan Holder (Chanda), Mitchel Musso (Mitch), Cleo Berry (Gilbert), Cynthia Murell (Ronnie), Hector David Jr. (Vance), Nikki Leigh (Marsha), Jamie Kennedy (Beach Patrol Alex)
A group of teens are partying on a beach over Springbreak. During the midst of the party, two of them return with a large pod they have found. Various of them wake in the morning, having slept or passed out in the lifeguard station and a car parked nearby, one of them even impaled inside a drum. As they wake up, some of the group walk out onto the sand only to be devoured. They realise that the pod hatched into something that has burrowed under the sand and will devour anything that touches it, which includes all of their friends who slept on the beach overnight. Keeping to what precarious shelter they have, they try to find a means to get free or obtain help as the creature’s tendrils advance.
The Sand was the directorial debut of Isaac Gabaeff who had previously been working in the industry for over a decade as a set dresser on numerous Hollywood productions.
The Sand reminds a good deal of Blood Beach (1980), a tongue-in-cheek monster movie, which when it came out was parodying the Animals Amok genre of the 1970s. That film had a creature lurking beneath the sand, while here the sand is the monster itself. Where Blood Beach was spoofing the monster movie, the surprise is that The Sand takes itself seriously. You keep expecting it to plant tongue in cheek but it plays itself out with an admirable seriousness.
The Sand didn’t get many good reviews. The self-absorbed teen characters who seem chosen for how well they fill out their trunks and bikinis switched me off from the outset. That said, I began to like The Sand far more than I was initially expecting to do. Isaac Gabeff catches your attention with a very gory meltdown of Hector David Jr.’s face fairly soon into the show.
As the final shot reveals, the entire locale of the film is constricted to an area probably no larger than the parking lot of your local convenience store where the only fixed items are a guard tower, a car and a picnic table – oh and a garbage drum, out of which an impaled Cleo Berry gets to deliver the entirety of his performance. Like all good survival dramas, Isaac Gabaeff derives a great deal of tension out of the containment of the situation, of the attempts to improvise with the items they have to hand. There are some fine seat-edge scenes like Dean Geyer’s attempts to make his way over to the picnic table by placing two surfboards end to end, or of the difficulties Cynthia Murell faces in trying to perch on the rear bumper of the car and open the trunk to get their phones. I was surprised by The Sand as it emerges as a solid and reasonable monster movie. It is even a film that manages to make digital gore work for it with some quite effective scenes where we see Jamie Kennedy’s arm chewed off at the elbow and Mitchel Musso reduced to spaghetti in a matter of seconds after falling on the sand.