It Stains the Sands Red is a deranged zombie-apocalypse film which can appear to be quite a testing rigmarole of events with a slow-moving narrative.
Vegas stripper Molly (Brittany Allen) and her drug dealer boyfriend Nick (Merwin Mondesir) power down the desert with the idea of heading to the assumed safety of some airbase outside of the city limits.
It’s clear from the start that Molly’s priorities are hugely misguided as she takes enough cocaine to almost overdose, causing the duo to pull over so that she can vomit her guts out. It seems like Molly would rather go out on a high than survive flesh-eating zombies which would either transform her or give her an excruciating and unpleasant bloody death. It’s that or perhaps the cocaine would numb the pain if she were to be eaten alive.
Unfortunately, the car doesn’t restart and the two find themselves panicking as a zombie man lollops and then attacks Nick leaving Molly to fight for her life. She’s unsuccessful in defeating the zombie and retreats to the airfield. After realising that she’s started her women’s monthly, and that the weird zombie man is drawn to her by the scent of her blood, she establishes an unwanted bond with the thing.
Molly names him ‘Smalls,’ after teasing him as if he were some seedy punter at one of the sleazy bars she probably worked at and telling him that he probably had a small dick.
It’s a match made in heaven, this suffering, slobbering zombie-man and a train wreck of a woman with no clear-cut goals or aspirations…well not until the near end at least.
Writer/Director Colin Minihan does have a knack for writing up watchable indie flicks, in fact Still/Born is another one of his works also screening this year at FrightFest, but It Stains the Sand Red fails to strike a memorable chord in the indie-horror-mind directory. The audience are taken through a grueling ordeal of a woman walking through the desert, accompanied by ranting monologues of frustration which exposes her as a shallow character, almost not worthy of paying any attention to at the world’s end. But Minihan does attempt to turn this around by trying to empower character Molly as this strong fucked up heroine, as she comes across serial killer-rapists, and a scene which is uncalled for and added nothing to the plot, if not grossness and underwhelming shock value. Molly stumbles across more obstacles and this is where the story becomes more interesting along with a sudden character objective; revelations that Molly is a mother who only ever wanted to be a good mom and live a fairly normal life.
However, the need to relate to character Molly as an empowered female protagonist in this movie is difficult because there’s a lot of idle ramblings throughout the majority of the film.
The idea of a character having to rely on the unbridled undead for support is a clever one and does manage to pull on an emotional string or two. Let’s face it, the zombie man does prove to be the most reliable ally she’s ever had and is at least unconditional in his putrefying affections.
It’s good to see the different types of zombies and it’s a surprise that Molly didn’t get infected during her zombie battles as Minihan throws in some gore punches which will make you look away.
It Stains the Sands Red might be vague or perhaps unconventional in its narrative structure, but it still manages to rope you into a frustrating but watchable discourse.