In the throes of a zombie apocalypse, a troubled woman from Las Vegas with a dark past finds herself stranded in the desert with a lone and ravenous zombie on her tail.
It Stains the Sands Red is serviceable entry into the Zombie Apocalypse sub-genre of horror. The opening shot is easily the most impressive. Over radio we hear chaos breaking throughout the city as the camera pulls back over the Las Vegas strip as hotels burst into flames, helicopters crash, and society begins to break down. Meanwhile, Molly (Brittany Allen) and Nick (Merwin Mondesir) tear down a desert highway in a two-seater sports car loaded up with booze, cigarettes, cocaine, and an aggressive desire to forget the disaster they are fleeing. The party-hard duo are on their way to an airfield to meet a friend who has a plane that will take them to Mexico and supposed safety and that is their one focus. After a pitstop along the highway they strand themselves by parking in a sandy spot and that’s when they notice the lone zombie heading toward them.
“…37 miles of desert between her and a possible ticket to safety.”
As circumstances play out, Molly is left to her own devices. She knows she has 37 miles of desert between her and a possible ticket to safety. Throwing as much as she can into a bag she sets off across the barren desert in hopes of making it to the airfield with the zombie (Juan Riedinger) in slow but persistent pursuit. Writers Minihan, Stuart Ortiz have developed a delicious concept that distills the zombie genre to its most essential ingredients. We have the survivor, the zombie, and the lingering chance of hope that diminishes with each passing minute.
It Stains The Sands Red owes Allen thanks. Playing Molly, the strung out stripper giving chase to a zombie through the Mojave desert, she single-handedly carries the picture with her amazing performance. Treating the zombie like her own sort of “Wilson”, she transitions from being terrified of her pursuer, to becoming dependent on his tenacity. It’s a subtle transition that happens before your eyes and one that she makes fully believable even when her actions are less than.
It should also be noted that the production design owes a great deal to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with its saturated, grainy tones and sassy editing. No, we don’t get hallucinations, but the world that these characters live in is already a trip.
“…a genre flick worth watching if for no other reason than the originality of the idea.”
The film is far from perfect though. It starts off strong as hell with a boldly original concept. Yet it falters as it lumbers further and further into the arid wasteland. Each new idea thrown at our heroin is first met with bracing originality then stretched out just a little too far, overstaying its welcome. It is a shame too because if trimmed just a bit more, this could easily be one of the strongest zombie flicks in years. Let’s hope that the film is massaged just a little bit more before being picked up for distribution. There is a final 10 minutes of the film that, while totally watchable, was entirely unnecessary.
When all is said and done, this is a genre flick worth watching if for no other reason than Allen‘s performance, the originality of the idea, and for the simple love of zombies.
It Stains the Sands Red (2017) Directed by Colin Minihan Written by: Colin Minihan, Stuart Ortiz. Starring: Brittany Allen, Juan Riedinger, Merwin Mondesir
It Stains the Sands Red is worth VOD (**).
* Norm’s Rating System: Full Price (****), Matinee (***), VOD (**), Don’t Bother (*)