The survival-horror subgenre that includes movies like Open Water and 127 Hours has a new entry: Quicksand, about an estranged couple who go hiking in an isolated forest and soon become stuck there… literally. Though the movie can be heavy-handed, the ordeal its characters go through is undeniably agonizing.
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Directed by Andrés Beltrán and written by Matt Pitts (Westworld, Fringe), Quicksand stars Carolina Gaitàn and Allan Hawco as Sophia and Josh, who travel together to her native Colombia for a healthcare conference—despite the fact that their marriage is all but over, and they can barely stand to be in the same room. When Josh tells a mutual friend he’s certain the workaholic Sophia won’t want to do any adventuring while they’re in Bogotá, she takes that as a challenge, setting her jaw and insisting they hike through a nearby rainforest.
With a runtime just under 90 minutes, Quicksand knows you want to get to the squishy stuff ASAP, but it drops some major foreshadowing along the way; its opening scene teases the isolated, hostile-for-many-reasons area we know Sophia and Josh will end up detouring into, a place their hotel’s front-desk clerk points out on a map and cautions “Even locos won’t go there.” Seems climate change has made the terrain especially treacherous, and has also made the place a favorite habitat for big-ass snakes.
An entirely different sort of peril—shady characters who rob tourists—rears its head as well, changing the couple’s four-mile stroll into a frantic chase into quicksand central. Once Sophia and Josh are both trapped together in the murky pit, something that would be horrifying even if it didn’t mean forced proximity with one’s ex-spouse, the dangers begin to mount; as expected, that includes a territorial venomous snake who gets a slithery POV shot by way of introduction, a stylistic choice that makes Quicksand very briefly feel like a creature feature.
That’s just about the only “fun” moment in Quicksand, though, which leans a bit heavily into its metaphors about how self-doubt can contribute to relationships failing—life can really, ahem, suck you under, y’know? Sophia and Josh never quite become people you want to root for, much less spend time flailing around in mud with. But truth be told, that’s likely intentional since Quicksand’s main goal is to make your skin crawl—and in that it succeeds, on multiple levels.
Quicksand hits Shudder July 14 and will also be available on AMC+.
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