Thursday, July 13, 2023

Quicksand, on Shudder

Who needs monsters, like vampires and zombies, when nature or everyday criminals can kill you just as fatally? Here in New York, you can take a deep breath of Canadian wildfire smoke, before some lunatic pushes you onto the subway tracks. Colombia is just as dangerous, as a separating married couple discover in Andres Beltran’s Quicksand, which debuts tomorrow on Shudder.

Sophia is happy to finally return to the world of international medical conferences that she gave up for the sake of motherhood. The only drawback is her husband (at least for the next few weeks) Josh is attending with her. They must even share a room, since their colleague Marcos wasn’t privy to their marital strife.

First, Josh was hoping to hike to the falls because he still fancies himself outdoorsy. Then Sophia decides to hike off on her own just to show him that she can, but she reluctantly agrees to let Josh join her. The altitude is brutal for the gringo, but the thug trying to jack their rental car is nastier. They sort of “get away” by running into the forbidden part of the woods, but they fall into quicksand instead. Technically, it was Sophia who blundered into it. Then Josh dived in to pull her head back to the surface. That leaves them both trapped, in a rain forest that has its share of snakes.

According to pedantic scientists, quicksand, as it actually occurs in nature, does not work they way classic
Tarzan movies portrayed it. They should tell that to Sophia and Josh. I’m sure they would be quite reassured. Yet, screenwriter Matt Pitts focuses more on the perils of poisonous snakes and the long-term risks of starvation and dehydration.

In fact, the dialogue and fractured marital dynamics are reasonably believable. First Sophia and Josh really go at it, but when their previously dormant affection kicks in, the film becomes surprisingly touching. Technically, their characters are not sketched out very deeply, but Carolina Gaitan and Allan Hawco still make their desperation and mutual concern quite compelling.

Despite premiering on Shudder,
Quicksand really shouldn’t be considered horror. It is a survival thriller much like Backcountry, or even Infinite Storm. This ought to go without saying, but hiking through the rain forests of Colombia alone is obviously a really, really bad idea. Frankly, Sophia and Josh are lucky they only ran into some snakes and a garden variety criminal, instead of the drug-running terrorists sponsored by Venezuela—as seen in Apple’s Echo 3.

Quiicksand is small in scale, but it works well as a quick and dirty streaming movie. Honestly, it is nice to see a new film on Shudder that does not feel compelled to offer stern commentary regarding gender and sexual identity. Instead, Quicksand celebrates family ties, especially when the chips are down. Recommended for subscribers, Quicksand starts streaming tomorrow (7/14) on Shudder.