IT STAINS THE SANDS RED (2016) is a small-scale zombie movie with an uneven delivery but a great effort. It’s the zombie apocalypse, and Molly and Nick are fleeing in his car. The objective is an airfield where Nick’s friends are waiting to take them to Mexico. When things go belly up, Molly finds herself forced to trek 36 miles through the desert to the airfield, relentlessly pursued the entire time by a lone zombie in a suit and tie.
The film takes a familiar trope and incorporates some original and likeable elements. The majority of the film is Molly (the gorgeous Brittany Allen) trying to make it across the desert with the zombie on her heels. She’s tough but terrified. She starts the film as a stereotype (complete with leopard-skin pants), but as the film progresses we get to know her as a more complex human being. Along the journey, she confronts the realities of her life, the directions she’s been led by circumstances as well as her own shortcomings. Her job as a stripper, her relationship with men who are all jerks, her love of recreational drugs, her inability to parent the child she gave to her sister.
There are some things to like here, but the film doesn’t quite pull it off despite serious trying, resulting in a very uneven film you may find yourself alternately engaged with and wading through as it progresses. It’s never really quite funny or scary, though there is something about it that’s compelling. As the conceit of the zombie pursuing her wears thin, the film takes a new direction that kind of comes out of nowhere, which I can’t share as it’d be a spoiler. I can say the ending brings decent dramatic closure as Molly realizes what’s important and that everything else is just bullshit, and finally acts for herself and what she needs.
Overall, for me, IT STAINS THE SANDS RED gets an A for effort and a B-/C+ for the result. It could have been a truly wicked short film, but there wasn’t enough material and story to sustain it across a feature film.