Film Review: Red Sands (2009)

SYNOPSIS:

A unit of U.S. soldiers is assigned to seize control of a strategically important Afghan road, but when the platoon stumbles upon an ancient statue and uses it for target practice, they awaken an evil spirit hungry for revenge. Now, the soldiers must use all their training and survival skills to battle the supernatural predator in this war horror film starring Shane West, Leonard Roberts and Aldis Hodge.

REVIEW:

Creepy, atmospheric and heightened by a sense of isolation. Red Sands is this year’s “Last Winter”. Except this time it’s the barren desert in Afghan as a troop of soldiers find themselves assigned to guard an incoming road while setting up camp at a remote hut. While on patrol, the team discovers an ancient sand statue on the side of a mountain that they carelessly take a shot at and awaken evil spirits. The spirits in this part known as the Djinn come from ancient folklore who are known to hate humans and are origin of pure evil. In this film we are given a different interpretation of the Djinn than the kind we encountered into the “WishMaster” series.

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The Djinn are actually more married to the culture of this film and there mysterious natures. As described in the title cards and in the dialog of the film “The Afghani people believed there were beings on Earth far older than humans–the Djinn. The Djinn, according to legend, were made of smokeless fire and could take on any form they wished but could be imprisoned in certain vessels such as a lamp as told in the tale of Aladdin. According to legend the Djinn hated humans and most fled the Earth as humans grew to dominate it. But a few remained imprisoned in vessels designed to contain them waiting to be freed.” This sets the stage for what you know is bound to take over this troop of soldiers.

The team dropped off in the middle of nowhere establish their base and spend most of the time trading off watch duties while they try and adhere to their assignment. While there seems to be no signs of life anywhere they stick it out and deal with isolation and a frequent sand storms. One night a strange Afghan woman arrives at there doorstep seeking shelter. Reluctantly they take her in while keeping a close watch. Slowly their world begins to fall apart. At first just haunting’s and visions within there dreams and then eeriness that comes from strange visuals indicating an evil force is present. One by open the group becomes smaller and smaller as different incidents prove to be fatal to the group and the influence it is having on them. Great performances are given by actors Shane West, Leonard Roberts, and Mercedes Masöhn.

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The film being called a sequel to Dead Birds is really its own beast. If you didn’t know it was the same director of Dead Birds the connection wouldn’t have been made. Though I did enjoy Alex’s directing talent tin Dead birds and even moreso now in this new installment. The movie tag line “Spirits take no prisoners.” pretty much sums it up.

A very smart and clever film, that uses subtle moves and haunting visuals at a minimal levels to provide just the right level of unsettling atmosphere. At first suggestions are made though more surreal moments which then become more apparent that something dark is within there presence. The strange women creeps in the shadows and moves with phantom like contortions indicating something more sinister among them. As they seem to loose control of there judgment and an increase in body counts, it becomes apparent that the Djinn are among them. Memories and nightmares seem to take form for various members of the group while others seem to be either possessed or overtaken by something in there midst. Alex Turner provides just the right amount of scare tactics that works for the film as a whole.

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Red Sands sneaks up on you rather than laying into you with full force scares. So when they do reveal they come at you with a strong sense of impact. Just enough to make a scene work and carry the objective. Red sands proves to be a really creepy film that still keeps its environment pretty simple. The heat, the desert and the solitude work to the advantage of the camera providing a common ground for loss of self. Also special mention of great creature reveals and CGI work that helps provide the bizarre contortions of the Djinn when they rarely are revealed. Overall I call this one a surprise hit that goes on the list as one of the best horror releases this year. highly recommended on all counts!

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