Dir. Andres Beltran (2023)
A married couple heading for divorce finds themselves trapped in quicksand in Colombia, finding themselves in a situation where they must work together to survive.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Heading to Shudder on July 14th, Quicksand is a man (and woman) vs. wild flick that is every bit as much concerned with family drama as it is nature run amok. Married couple Josh (Allan Hawco, Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan) and Sofia (Carolina Gaitan, Encanto) are in Sofia's native Colombia for a medical conference and wind up going hiking in a gorgeous jungle area known Las Arenas, an area populated by a newly introduced species of snake and just, like, loads of quicksand. When they come across their car being ransacked by a local hoodlum, they take off into the woods and accidentally fall into a pit of quicksand. There, they must work together to try to survive against impossible odds and terrifying jungle creatures. This unfortunately ends up not being quite as fun as it sounds.
Quicksand has all of the pieces it needs to be effective: beautiful scenery, dangerous animals, and that evil human element that always threatens to out-nefarious nature. Sadly, the couple at the heart of the story have about as much chemistry as their characters do at the beginning of the film. The actors don't do a bad job, but they never quite click the way that they need to in order to carry the entire film. For a movie that almost completely takes place in one location between two people, it's vital that those people have the charisma necessary to make it all work, and Gaitan and Hawco never quite pull it off.
There's also very little actual action in the film. That's perhaps not surprising given the nature of a story about two people stuck in quicksand, but the film fails to ratchet any tension throughout, leaving the audience more disinterested than at full attention. The medical science involved is pretty atrocious, which is ironic in a film about two doctors: removing clots is one thing, but cutting into someone's carotid artery to remove a clot with a hunting knife (and having it be almost a bloodless affair) is not good medicine to say the least. I get drastic measures need to be taken, but shit, at least have a bit of arterial spray if you're going to be cutting into someone's throat.
While there are more than enough aspects of the film with which to be critical, there are a couple of bright spots. The direction is pretty good, to be fair. There are some good shots in the film that very well may hold your interest even if the plot doesn't, and the elemental challenges feel very real throughout (likely because, according to the director, they were, and the movie was filmed on location in the wilds of Colombia). Despite the general lack of excitement, Quicksand could find an audience in folks that are more interested in watching a good-looking film than they are a scary one. While there isn't anything in the film that comes even close to terrifying, and the openness of the terrain prevents things from ever becoming claustrophobic, the scenery and setting at least are worth a look.
Also, as a side note: Boa constrictors aren't venomous. Just... wanted to throw that out there.
Who this movie is for: Nature horror fans, Single-setting movie lovers, Campers
Bottom line: Uneven throughout and never quite picking up steam, Quicksand could have been a lot better than it ends up being. The acting is decent but never transcends that moniker, the action never escalates beyond "uh oh" level, and the film drags more than necessary. It's a pretty film, though, and if you're a fan of nature you very well may enjoy it just for that part. This one's a big miss for me, especially considering the potential that is sidestepped through most of the film. It's streaming on Shudder 7/14, so you can check it out for yourself and see if you agree.