Thursday 13 July 2023

Horror Film Review: Quicksand (2023) ★★☆☆☆–A Shudder Original

After 125 years of horror films, you'd think people would know the basics: never, ever ignore local knowledge of dangerous places and never follow someone else into certain death, no matter how much you love them. Andres Beltran's Quicksand had me shaking my head from the very beginning, first because of the arrogance of our unlikeable protagonists and then because it defied logic.

Poster for Andres Beltran's Quicksand showing Carolina Gaitán surrounded by a boa constrictor

Sofia (Carolina Gaitán, Encanto) and Josh (Allan Hawco, The Breach) travel to Colombia to attend a conference. They are in the throes of a divorce yet decide to take a hike together to find the La Chorrera waterfall. When a storm moves in and they try to return to their car, they have a violent encounter with an armed man. On the run and desperate, they escape into Las Arenas, the very part of the forest that locals are too afraid to go into.

They might have escaped their pursuer but the couple land up in quicksand and need to use every survival skill they have to save themselves.

Fear will drag you deeper

I'm always conscious that there are human beings behind every project and horror, especially, needs our indulgence and willing suspension of disbelief, but Quicksand was not my cup of tea. I’m also conscious that there is a subset of horror fans who watch films because they get bad reviews and also horror fans who read reviews because they want to vent about a film.With that said..

Spoiler alert: I need to talk about this film and I'm going to dive straight into some key plot points and outcomes below. Turn away now if you haven't watched Quicksand.

If you've ever sat at a table while a couple bickered and aired their dirty laundry in public, then you'll be familiar with the primary dynamic of Quicksand. Sofia and Josh argue in every scene but the audience is never given insight into who they are as people or what caused the breakdown of their relationship. I enjoyed Allan Hawco in The Breach but neither Hawco nor Gaitán had much to work with here.

Sofia (Carolina Gaitán) and Josh (Allan Hawco) crouch on the forest floor in Andres Beltran's Quicksand

This was partly due to the bare bones of a plot. In short: married couple are getting a divorce, they inexplicably go for a hike in the woods. They encounter a violent attacker, escape into the one place they've been warned against, and the wife lands in quicksand. The husband decides to jump in after her and then they are both doomed. They very conveniently find a dead man in the hole and are able to raid his entire MacGyver kit. Pity he didn't think of that.

They are initially unable to move their arms above the very heavy mud but luckily, Josh is able to reach into his pants and retrieve a bottle of vodka when Sofia gets attacked by fire ants.

She is likewise very fortunate to be able to conduct neck surgery on Josh to remove a blood clot after he is bitten by a snake. Thank goodness for that MacGyver knife.

In a feat of astonishing agility against the very heavy mud, Sofia is then able to use her upper body strength to lob a lasso (made of a 15kg dead boa constrictor and other bits and pieces) over a rock and pull herself out of the pit. For some reason, none of the very heavy mud is actually on her and she just looks wet.

Miraculously, Josh also survives because he had 6 hours to live after the snake bite and he only had to wait 5 hours and 59 minutes for the antidote.

I wish that I could say more about the cinematography and camera work, but I found it to be quite dull and uninspired despite the forest setting. A lot of the angles and shots were weird and disorienting too, although I could see what they were trying to achieve.

Carolina Gaitán struggles against a boa constrictor while submerged in quicksand
Overall, I'd recommend Andres Beltran's Quicksand be viewed on a night in when you're looking for a good drinking game. Have a shot every time something improbable or impossible happens on screen. It says a lot for a horror fan to choose to believe the paranormal and supernatural over a simple forest survival plot but there you have it. I give it a disappointing two out of five stars; as stupid as they were, the parts where Sofia fell in the quicksand and Josh went jumping in after her were actually quite thrilling. .

A Shudder Original, Quicksand premieres on Friday 14 July 2023. Streaming Exclusively on Shudder and AMC+

Quicksand (2022) Trailer. Directed by Andres Beltran

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