Sand Serpents (2009)

Director: Jeff Renfroe
Starring:Jason Gedrick, Tamara Hope, Elias Toufexi, Sebastian Knapp, Chris Jarman. Canada. 1h 30m

Like a strange warped version of Monsters: Dark Continent (2014), blended with Jarhead (2005)and Tremors (1990), Sand Serpents doesn’t really feature a nest of deadly vipers as I expected instead the foes are more like miniature versions of the adorable Dune (1984) like sand worms but with a blood thirsty taste for human flesh.

A small group of US Army Soldiers become stranded in the remote Afghan desert, but against all odds and while teaming up with a father and daughter team from the local region they battle the Taliban and the epic worm like creatures from an unknown source, not something covered in basic training.

Terror Lies Beneath

The best feature of this movie is the pacing, once the initial introductions are made the team are off and on the road, through a very surreal Middle East, filled with random Taliban forces, peaceful locals and strange giant monsters that no one else has ever seen. While a lot of the plot is absurd the cast manage to keep a straight face, the delivery of the lines is sloppy at time but the boy scouts are more soldier like than these cowboys.

The stereotypes are played on heavily, as every tries to mimic the cast from Aliens, but everything is so flat, the only emphasis and spice between the players is a prejudice soldier and a local Afghan man who tries to help them, the playground arguments from the two don’t vary but each time they raise their voices it’s repeated that not everyone from the Afghan area is a terrorist, the brainy kids already know this.

Together there’s enough know how for this “crack” team to work their way around most obstacles thrown in their way and this is when the magic happens. It might be spelled out for those in the back but with the driven pace and attempts at action and humor the group club together and step by step fight their way through mini wars, obviously shedding members along the way, because an action war sci fi movie won’t be the same without some love and loss.

It mostly feels like Monsters: Dark Continent, but on the low down, as for some reason these monsters have never been seen before, and with all the military action in the area, again nothing has been noted, Sadam Hussein could fart in a hole in the ground and be found but 60 ft monsters ripping up the sand and the US Military are clueless until they upon them. The film isn’t going to win any fans for being convincing but there’s a slight edge for suspense and involvement.

This is way under par in comparison with Renfroe‘s Magnum Opus, The Colony (2013) but without all poise of a better team of actors, and a fairly well put together story it’s not as trashy and mindless as something like Sharknado (2013). Generally in the terms of B Movies, it really works, there’s something to follow and all the classic tropes are maxed out, if it dropped the repetition and maybe has been a bit more daring with some of the kills and dynamics in the group it could really be a fan favorite we don’t really want something standard with independent movies, give us something outlandish to cherish and we’ll be your fan forever, but at least we get to see a 10 year old girl on the winning team against the Taliban!

So what about the monsters, well they are huge, worm like and with rings of teeth, they seem to follow the pounding noise but can be deterred by grenades, I don’t know why they didn’t use the grenades to blow them up, instead they use them as a distraction, and to think we sleep sound in our beds at night thanks to these armed forces?!? It’s not the most dynamic design, we’ve seen it before many times but not in this situation, but is it enough to really warrant a movie, Predator is the same character if hunting in the forest or a city… are people still so riled up about terror from the middle east that we have to re write all out sci fi and horror movies around that war?

It could have taken a bigger step to really hit home with the fact that the Taliban are bastards even to other Afghans, who also don’t want them around, not necessarily going all the way as in Lone Survivor (2013) but there seems to be such a determined drive to push home the idea by repeating a few basic lines, rather than show why, it seems as if a trick was missed here but well done for sticking up for the truth.

Rating: 2/10

R: Lone Survivor (2013), Sharknado (2013). Monsters: Dark Continent (2014), Jarhead (2005), Tremors (1990),

L: 2013 B Movies, Desert Horrors, Giant Worms of GTFO

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