'It Stains the Sands Red': Film Review
Colin Minihan's offbeat zombie film strands Brittany Allen ('All My Children') in the desert with a single undead cannibal on her tail.
A Las Vegas stripper attempts to escape the zombie apocalypse in Colin Minihan's low-budget It Stains the Sands Red, a film whose eponymous "it" may not refer to the undead menace we're expecting. All My Children's Brittany Allen is a solo protagonist here, bucking the genre's customary ensemble format, and that's not the only way Minihan's picture (co-written with Stuart Ortiz) strays from the usual script. Genre fans will likely have a hard time coming to terms with this tonally confused and sometimes grating film, whose commercial prospects are limited despite the appeals it makes to some underserved audiences.
That "it" mentioned above is the heroine's menstrual blood. Stuck in the desert 30 miles from the airstrip where she hopes to catch a plane away from zombie-struck Vegas, Allen's Molly realizes she has her period, and further realizes that this makes her easily tracked by the zombie that killed the man she was traveling with. Their low-speed chase across scorching sands begins as unpersuasive horror, then segues into annoyance-based comedy before veering in stranger directions.
Pop quiz: When being trailed by a flesh-eater and trying to catch a plane bound for island safety, do you a) drink your water on the go, or b) make frequent pit stops for hydration and cocaine? When a member of the undead population finds the abandoned house where you're hiding, do you a) climb out a window, or b) hide in the bathtub behind a shower curtain? Those who choose "b" in either case may be intellectually or temperamentally prepared to identify with Molly, whose lack of survival skills doesn't jibe with a film that one suspects thinks of itself as a woman-empowering indie. Frequently finding herself just a few yards away from her slow-moving pursuer, Molly takes to taunting him loudly, ranting at him as if he's a man who won't stop hitting on her in a bar and naming him "Small Dick."
But as the days pass and she survives some other dangers, Molly weirdly starts to bond with this insensate predator. In her deranged state, she finally starts to feel guilty about the child she left behind in her sister's care. The pic has taken so many sharp turns at this point that few viewers will be able to buy into this last-ditch maternal theme. But it's the only way for Minihan to rescue his lead actress from the humiliations that got her to this point.
Production companies: Digital Interference Productions, Grasswood Media
Distributor: Dark Sky Films
Cast: Brittany Allen, Juan Riedinger, Merwin Mondesir, Kristopher Higgins, Andrew Supanz, Michael Filipowich, Nico David, Dylan Playfair
Director-Editor: Colin Minihan
Screenwriters: Stuart Ortiz, Colin Minihan
Producers: Brandon Christensen, Colin Minihan, Stuart Ortiz, Bic Tran
Executive producers: Brittany Allen, Marc Milliard
Director of photography: Clayton Moore