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Genre: Horror/Thriller
Starring: Shane West, Leonard Roberts, Aldis Hodge, Callum Blue, Brendan Miller, Theo Rossi, Noel G, J.K. Simmons
Director: Alex Turner
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language & Sexual Scenes)
Year Made: 2008




- Commentary With Director
Alex Turner and Writer Simon Barrett
- Deleted scenes
- The Screenwriter Diaries: The Making of Red Sands Featurette
- Set Tour With Noel Gugliemi Featurette



Languages: English/Thai/Spanish/Portuguese/
Subtitles: English/Thai/Chinese/
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 1 hr 29 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Origin Entertainment




From the creators of the cult hit, Dead Birds, comes the psychological, horror film Red Sands, which follows the story of a group of U.S. soldiers who face a deadly supernatural force after they destroy an ancient statue. Present-day Afghanistan. As continuing battles rage in the war-torn country, a unit of U.S. soldiers are dispatched to seize and control a strategic road that runs past an abandoned stone house. En route, the soldiers discover an ancient stone statue hidden deep within an ancient ravine. Using the relic for target practice, they destroy it, unwittingly releasing a vengeful supernatural force that is about to wage a horrifying war on them in this taut, action-packed, psychological thriller.


Horror? Not quite. Psychological thriller? No. Taut and action-packed? Definitely not. Then what is Red Sands exactly? A low budget film that tried very much to be all of the above, but didn't make the grade.

Written by Simon Barrett and directed by Alex Turner, the film had wanted to introduce the audience to the supernatural world of Djinns, or genies, and to do so by putting a group of soldiers through the ordeal in Afghanistan where their ignorance for culture brings forth a Djinn to be unleashed, wrecking havoc to their platoon. Unfortunately, whether it be a lack of budget or finesse in execution, the film didn't deliver on many levels, from acting, to scares, to makeup and effects, that it seemed rather pedestrian from start to end.

Like how Korean film Guardpost began, this one too had a lone survivor Specialist Jeff Keller (Shane West) being called by the upper brass (played by J K Simmons) to recount what exactly happened amongst his platoon mates. But unlike the Korean horror film, this one had a distinct lack of blood, gore, and atmospheric mood that exemplifies every typical horror film, not that it was trying to be refreshing, but unfortunately came across as the filmmakers' indecision on just what this film should be focused on.

So we have plenty of shots where soldiers go on their routine patrols, only to find themselves (and the audience) being hurled from one red herring to another, until eventually an Arab woman (Mercedes Masohn) barges into their makeshift camp at an abandoned house, that strange things start to happen to each and every one in the platoon. And that includes some slow exploration into their individual fears and past military misdeeds, capitalized by the ghoul to turn comrades into adversary.

However, you don't get to see much of that ghoul in action, and poor special effects only cheapens its appearance. There is also a lack of background to the Djinn other than the introductory opening titles and casual mention by one of the characters, hence setting the stage for a downfall as the audience cannot fear what they do not know, nor see on screen. It's one thing trying to keep it under wraps, but another when a strong build up doesn't get created.

For local audiences, if you've seen the film Pulau Hantu, then Red Sands happen to be very much like it. In fact, the similarities are just too close, with soldiers, mysterious ghouls, an abandoned house, and especially both the introduction and ending sequence which has to do with a military tribunal. If Pulau Hantu wasn't your cup of tea, then this film would elicit a carbon copy of a response from you as well.


While the movie is generally a let down, no effort is spared to ensure that the extras here meets some baseline expectations. For filmmaking buffs, you're likely to check out the Featurettes.

The first is The Screenwriters Diaries: The Making of Red Sands (20:28) which is actually directed by the writer of Red Sands, Simon Barrett. It's a novel way to present a making of through the eyes of the story writer, and it's split into 22 random short chapters each capturing a different aspect of making the film, from make up to special effects etc. The first and final shots of production were also included for keepsakes.

The other featurette is quite a waste of time. Red Sands Set Tour with Noel G (6:45) is as the title goes, with cast member Noel G. bringing you around and ad-libbing plenty of gangsta-talk passing off as commentary. Making up for that disappointment will the Commentary with Director Alex Turner and Writer Simon Barrett, where they don't lapse into the usual bland description of what's happening on screen, but provide plenty of nuggets of information to the actual production, where they have no qualms dishing out the dirt on making a low budget film (US1.5 million by their standards, some 1% of a typical Hollywood blockbuster). Wannabe filmmakers would benefit from listening to a whole host of challenges they face, and how they overcome them through compromises and innovation.

Deleted Scenes are presented in letterbox format with subtitles available. For those who want to go through everything, there's a Play All function as well. 4 scenes are included here running a total of approximately 9 minutes. Angry Pirates, Magic and World Records (3:15) contains 3 dirty jokes that won't seem out of place in any conversation when troops get transported in a convoy, as is More Blumpkin (2:25). Plenty of gore gets offered in The Goat Herder (2:10), while it's easy to understand why Let the Marines Take Care of It (0:57) got dropped in the first place.

Previews contain the usual Sony back-slapping Blu-Ray Disc is High Definition clip which autoplays when you insert the DVD into the player, as will the trailers for Anaconda: Trail of Blood (0:40) and Screamers: The Hunting (1:40). Other trailers included are same-type straight to DVD movies like The Grudge 3 (1:19), Boogeyman 3 (1:18), and The Lodger (1:10).


Nice visual transfer with a respectable the Dolby 5.1 track audio.



Review by Stefan Shih


Other titles from Origin Entertainment:

. Punisher (Blu-ray)

. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

. Quarantine

. Center Stage: Turn It Up

. Street Fighter

. The House Bunny

. The Cook

. Step Brothers

. Open Season 2

. Anaconda 3: Offspring

. Hancock

. You Don't Mess With The Zohan

. Prom Night

. Casino Royale

. Redbelt

. Felon

. Tortured

. Penelope

. Hellboy Animated: Blood & Iron

. Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms

. Away From Her

. The Take

. Saawariya

. Black Book

. The Shepherd

. Conspiracy

. Cleaner

. Hero Wanted

. Shattered

. Breath

. Cashback

. Your Name Is Justine

. Death Sentence

. The Jane Austen Book Club

. Across The Universe

. The Triplets of Belleville

. The Ten Commandments

. CJ7

. Love Lies Bleeding

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. Urban Justice

. Perfect Stranger

. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

. Reign Over Me

. Surf's Up

. 5ivegirls

. Vacancy

. Paprika

. Walking Tall: Lone Justice

. Dead Mary

. Spider-Man 3

. Priceless

. Trust the Man

. The Contractor

. Blood And Chocolate

. The Wicker Man

. Wind Chill

. Are We Done Yet?

. Android Apocalypse

. Elizabeth I

. The Proposition

. 3 Needles

. Ghost Rider

. The Pursuit of Happyness

. The Illusionist

. Catch & Release


This review is made possible with the kind support from Origin Entertainment


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