You know, I really am beginning to think it’s impossible to make a scary military horror movie set, at least in America. Korea’s R-Point G.P. 506 are both damn good. But between Red Sands and The Objective, I’m beginning to wonder if these horror films about soldiers in Afghanistan are just hard to make scary. After all, the point of setting your film in the desert, or in a foreign land, is to emphasize the foreign land, thus setting a good portion of the film during the day time. Hard to have scares in the daylight.
I haven’t seen director Alex Turner’s last film, Dead Birds, but I’ve heard good things about it. But Red Sands just isn’t scary. The acting is great, and there are some decent tense moments in the film, especially in the last act (before the abysmal ending), but for a horror film, there’s not much horror.
Check out my full review after the jump.
In Red Sands, a group American soldiers in Afghanistan are sent to watch a road that’s being used by the Al-Qaeda to transport equipment and weapons. They get attacked on the way to the mission and, while searching for their attackers, they find an idol in the mountains. It’s supposedly thousands of years old, but some idiot (who’s apparently also a pervert and a rapist) decides to shoot it. The soldiers then get back into their vehicles and head to a small house along the road that gives them a prime location to watch and report terrorist activity.
As they survey the surrounding area, they find a nearby village, but all the tents seem abandoned. They find a dead body in the house where they’re staying … thing just do not bode well. Then, a young woman comes out a sand storm, finding her way to the house – how did she get out into the middle of nowhere like that? What is she saying?
As things get weirder and weirder, the staff seargant (Leonard Roberts from Heroes and Smallville) starts to go crazy, and the rest of the group starts killing each other off.
This is where the film finally started getting interesting. I would have liked a little more horror in it, but with the tension high, it was still pretty entertaining. Then the crappiest CGI monster I’ve seen since Scorpion King 2 pops up on screen and runs away into the darkness. Wow…this thing is AWFUL, and I’ve seen some movies that look like they were made in someone’s backyard.
The acting was good, but it’s about the one shining thing in the entire film. Shane West (ER, League of Extraordinary Gentleman) is typically good, and Leonard Roberts is pretty intimidating as the staff sargeant. And it even had J. Jonah Jameson from the Spidey films! The rest of the crew put in solid performances, if nothing extraordinary. It just…well, it’s so mediocre and middle of the road, I was kind of wondering what the point of the whole thing was. And, while I’m okay with things being left ambiguous, a good portion of the storyline remains entirely unexplained.
You know what bugs me? When a movie has an opening crawl that’s pointless because a character in the film explains it all anyway. I mean, do they really think their audience won’t get it unless they tell us twice? I actually prefer the opening crawl, which explains the concept of the Djinn, because when one of the soldiers pipes in about the history of the Djinn, it’s literally word for word what we’ve already read, and it just seems pretty convenient that he would know it. Ugh.
Probably not worth the time, honestly. Skip it.
Paul’s Awesomeness Score – 4 out of 10!