Okay so I just got done reviewing Shudder Survival movie Quicksand from 2023. And it is very clear that I can’t simply walk away from this without addressing some of the absolute ridiculousness that this movie attempts to feed to viewers as fact.
For those of you who are survival horror fans. You may have already seen the movie Outback. Hell, you may even have read my review of it or even my Outback Ending Explained. In both of these articles I go to town on the inconsistencies in the story, the leaps of logic and the absolute bullshit spouted as fact. Well, Quicksand offers up almost as much of the same crap as Outback. Only it is even more inaccurate and even more poorly researched.
We are talking venomous boa constrictors, cutting a blood clot out of a person’s veins, the danger of quicksand and much more. This movie absolutely goes to town with the bullshit. I am sure most people recognise that the vast majority of what happens here is ridiculous. But let’s talk about it a little bit. Just how dangerous is quicksand and what danger would a person be in when approached by a Boa Constrictor?
It goes without saying, if you haven’t seen the movie. You are going to want to read our review of quicksand first and check the movie out. This article contains spoilers but our reviews are always spoiler free. We are going to breakdown the plot and answer a few questions along the way. Without further ado, let’s go.
What Happens in Quicksand?
Quicksand opens up with two people running through the woods only for one of them to end up in quicksand. The pair in question are thieves that usually pray on tourists. They work together with an employee of a local hotel. The clerk at the hotel gives unsuspecting tourists directions to a good hiking spot. He then lets the scammers know that the tourists are heading there.
The scammers follow the tourists and then rob them while they are away from their cars. Not finding this profitable enough. They have now turned their attention to hunting snakes to harvest their skins. Little do they realise, they are running through an area of quicksand. One of the scammers falls in and will shortly be seen again in a newly minted cadaver form. The other scammer leaves his pal to drown because there is no honour among thieves, apparently.
Meet Obnoxious Couple Josh and Sophia
The bulk of the story sees soon to be divorced married couple Josh and Sophia heading to Colombia so that Sophia can conduct a lecture. Josh and Sophia have two children together, a 3 year old and a 5 year old. The children are staying with their grandparents. An old travelling buddy of Josh’s, Marcos (Sebastian Eslava), invited the pair along to his health convention after being unable to find anyone else to participate. Josh and Sophia appear to work in healthcare but have, seemingly, been living apart. Something that Josh has not told Marcos.
The couple share a dinner of Mondongo (a pork, chorizo and tripe soup common in Colombia) with Marcos. Though Sophia does not partake due to being vegetarian. At the dinner, Josh finally tells Marcos that the pair are splitting up. Something that is surprising to Marcos. The next morning, Josh wakes surprised to see that Sophia is already up. The pair are sharing a room because Marcos didn’t realise they had split and booked them a couple’s suite. Sophia tells Josh that she wants to go on a hike. Despite Sophia wanting to go on the hike to enjoy herself in spite of Josh’s presence. Josh invites himself and Sophia agrees.
Where Are Josh and Sophia Supposed to be Going?
Josh and Sophia are supposed to be hiking to the La Chorrera waterfall in Bogotá. It’s a stunning place, the tallest waterfall in Colombia, and incredibly popular with hikers and tourists. Discussing their plan with the hotel clerk. The hotel clerk points out the best route. While looking at the map, Josh notices a path cutting right through to the location of La Chorrera. Being his usual overly dominating self. He suggests that the aforementioned route would cut hours of the hike. The clerk warns that the area, Las Arenas (The Sands), is plagued with dangerous snakes and suggests they take the alternate, longer, route. The pair leave and the clerk nods to his accomplice to indicate that they are leaving and he should follow them so that he can rob them.
So they head out and eventually arrive at the start of their trail to La Chorrera. After walking for some distance, it is clear that Josh is struggling. He is lagging behind and panting heavily. Sophia waits for him and he tells her he had a cramp. The reality is that he is actually an alcoholic and struggling due to that. The pair hear thunder in the distance and, not wanting to get caught up in a Colombian rain storm, decide to head back to the car. Josh, once again, showing his controlling personality.
Why Doesn’t Josh Incapacitate the Thief?
So this is where we hit our first ridiculous plot point. When the couple get back to the car, somebody is attempting to break into it. Remember the two scammers from the beginning who were hunting snakes? Well, one of them has already died after running into quicksand in the Las Arenas area. The other one decided it would be much safer going back to robbing tourists. The hotel clerk told him that the pair were on their way to La Chorrera so he followed them and is now attempting to rob them. Only, he didn’t anticipate them coming back so early.
Josh confronts the robber and this is where we hit our first ridiculous plot point. A scuffle breaks out and Josh hits the robber with a log. Why the hell did he not hit him a few more times to properly incapacitate him, get in the car and leave? This makes no sense at all. He hits him once and the couple make a run for it into the woods. Little do they realise, they have entered Las Arenas. An area filled with dangerous snakes and quicksand. Sophia knocks herself out on a branch. When she wakes up, she is a bit dizzy and ends up falling into quicksand. Josh arrives a few minutes later and attempts to help her. This leads us right onto our second dumb plot point.
Would Sophia Really Sink Into the Quicksand?
When Josh arrives he tries to help Sophia. She ends up sinking completely into the quicksand prompting Josh to jump in after her. But would this actually happen in real life? The answer is almost certainly not! Despite what action movies from the 80s would have you believe. Quicksand doesn’t work this way and much of that is due to the composition of the human body.
So when we end up in quicksand, we have a few things working against us and a few things working in our favour. The things working against us are our legs. Each leg comprises between 16-18% of our total body weight. A little lower, on average, in men and a little higher in women due to differences in overall levels of body fat. So our lower half comprises up to 40% of our total body mass. That’s quite a lot and when you fall into quick sand, those legs are going to work against you. The weight of them will drag you in and pull you down into the sand.
The things we have going in our favour are our lungs. Our lungs are positioned in such a way that when we fall in quicksand, they will keep us nicely buoyant on the service of the sand. Remember, they are, basically, big sacks of air and act almost like a pool float does. Keeping us propped up against the dense sand and keeping our heads nicely above the water. When people die from being trapped in quick sand, it is almost always because of an incoming tide washing over the person. Not because the sand sucked them under. You can finally put to rest all of those traumatising fears about quicksand that kids movies gave you all those years ago.
What Should Sophia and Josh Have Done
So we now know that Sophia would not have sank under the quicksand. That is almost impossible. It is a plot element added purely for drama and undermined later on when the pair pass out in the sand, staying upright the entire time. So what should they have done? Well, the most obvious thing would have been for Josh to go and get help. But the writers decided to throw in Sophia’s unlikely submerging for drama so Josh is now in the proverbial shit slurpy and fighting for his own survival.
Sophia, however, actually hits the nail on the head. The best thing that they can do is try to lie back in the sand. Dispersing their weight over a greater area and allowing their lungs to create buoyancy. Keeping them comfortably afloat while they slowly move back to the edge.
This is, actually, something that is possible to do, as well. This is only a small pool of sand, it’s not like they are surrounded by miles of beach. If Sophia and Josh slowly moved their legs back and forth. They may have created a cavity around them which would fill with water, gradually freeing them from their prison. It would have taken a long time and a lot of energy. But it is better than the actual plan they come up with which is to make a lasso.
Sophia Can’t Pull Up Her Arm But Pulls Up a Corpse
Another ridiculous plot point here is that Sophia complains about being unable to move her arm. But somehow manages to pull up an entire dead ass human from the sand. This would require a tremendous amount of force and, likely, wouldn’t be possible without a winch. That’s not to mention the fact that pulling up the corpse would create a space vacuum that would be filled by water. Likely reducing the pressure on Sophia and allowing her some movement.
The only point of this is to illustrate the fact that the real threat here is starvation, not sinking. The man has, according to his skin, starved to death. Suggesting he was stuck in here for a long time. This is another ridiculous plot point as being dead for any length of time in a body of water would result in bloating. That is if he didn’t suffer any skin slippage due to being submerged in sand and water for an extended period of time. They would likely be pulling out something that looked like the mid stages of a Mortal Kombat fatality. Not a corpse with a heroin chic bone structure and a pallid complexion.
In case you didn’t realise. This corpse belongs to the hunter/scammer from the beginning of the movie. We can assume a fair bit of time has passed between that event and this one. Enough time for him to starve to death so up to 30 days or so. His fellow scammer/hunter, who we saw a few minutes ago trying to break into the car. Knew that his friend had fallen in sand, didn’t help him and now stays the hell away from Las Arenas. Likely explaining why he didn’t pursue the couple into the area after they twatted him with the log.
What is Sophia and Josh’s Plan?
Sophia and Josh retrieve a bunch of crap off of the hunter including some binoculars and a rifle. Josh comes up with a plan to make a lasso. He will have Sophia swing the lasso around a nearby rock and pull herself out. They begin cutting up the strap from the bag along with a bunch of other stuff and test it out. They are about 8 foot short. Now, if you were thinking they could probably just cut the sleeves off of Josh’s jacket. And use that along with the strap from the binoculars and something else like, perhaps, Sophia’s bra strap or something. Then you are probably right but that’s not what they are going to do. They are going to bitch, moan, complain and argue until a big ass snake shows up.
Meanwhile, back at the comfy hotel. Marcos is hanging out in the foyer when he spots the hunter/scammer who was trying to break into Josh’s car earlier. He notices that the scammer is wearing Josh’s backpack. Very observant of him but I think we are supposed to believe this is a lucky backpack that Josh always uses. Hence it would have been used on hikes that Josh went on with Marcos in the past. The funny thing is that this isn’t close to being a suitable backpack for any kind of extensive hiking. You would struggle to get all of your school books in there, never mind a whole bunch of hiking supplies. Anyways, Marcos realises what has happened and confronts the man.
The lasso attempt having failed, the couple get a glimmer of hope as a helicopter appears overhead. This helicopter is a really terrible example of CGI bring to mind Asylum Shark movies for how crappy it looks. They attempt to get the pilot’s attention but the trees are too dense. Sophia attempts to set fire to, what looks like, the hunter’s leather bag. Which is far more likely to leave you with some slightly warm cow skin rather than a nicely smoking fire. Josh tells her it is pointless and that they need the supplies they have got.
Later on they will debate whether they should have fired into the air using the hunter’s rifle to get the pilot’s attention. Whether this would work or not is debatable and, frankly, rather unlikely. Helicopters are loud and a rifle would produce little muzzle flash. The only way to get the pilot’s attention would be to shoot him. But it raises another question; namely, would the rifle fire after being submerged in quick sand?
The answer here is maybe. I am not well up on firearms but I am assuming a relatively poor hunter in Colombia would likely be using a .22 rifle. With such a narrow barrel, there is a strong likelihood that a gun submerged in water with no protection could develop a water lock somewhere along the barrel. Kind of like a straw does with water.
This can result in full barrel destruction upon shooting. As long as the ammo is waterproof and the barrel does not have a water lock. There is a chance it will shoot with no problem so that plot point is not entirely as farcical as it may seem. Which is good as we are about to need that rifle.
Sophia Gets Antsy and The Movie Gets Even Dumber
As the movie goes on and our protagonists keep moaning and being, generally, obnoxious. Sophia finds herself being bitten by a bunch of ants. I don’t know if you have ever been bitten by ants but even the small ones sting like hell. These bastards are about an inch each so it’s fair to assume Sophia is in some considerable pain. When many types of ant bite, they release something called Formic Acid which burns. We can probably assume that these are supposed to be fire ants which are even worse, having a type of venom. A venom that some people react to rather badly and can leave blisters. Much like the ones we see on Sophia’s neck.
The venom from fire ants is an oily alkaloid. Josh passes Sophia a bottle of vodka claiming it will act as a repellant. I don’t think it is quite that simple with fire ants, though. The writing and dialogue here is pretty terrible. The main point of this is to reveal that Josh is a drinking again. We learn that he is a recovering alcoholic that had been sober for a long time. He has been drinking to cope with the divorce. Prompting more anger from Sophia. The pair are about to be distracted, though, as the subtitles read “hissing, slithering”. It’s time for the movie’s coup de grace of crap.
The Venomous Constrictor
To Sophia and Josh’s surprise. A large snake is about to join the party and it’s venomous, only; it definitely isn’t venomous. This is the snake from Quicksand. Say hello to the hero of the movie in more ways that one.
Now, I happen to have a lot of experience with handling a large snake (giggity!). Namely, a 7 foot Boa Constrictor that I owned a number of years ago. She was a big, friendly, bugger that loved nothing more than chilling under her heat lamp and impressing my friends when we played poker. I, unfortunately, had to move and rehomed her with a fellow collector who I knew would give her a good home. But she was a majestic animal that I really enjoyed sharing my space with. Here is a picture of a Boa constrictor.
Look familiar? Why yes, of course it does because that is the very same species of snake you are looking at in Quicksand. Boa Constrictors, I am happy to tell you, are not remotely venomous. In fact, no boas or pythons are. They are constrictors that, basically, wrap themselves around prey. Increasing the tightness of their coils with each exhalation made by its prey. Essentially causing the animal in question to die from lack of oxygen. This up close and personal approach is vastly different to venomous snakes which will bite a victim and then back off. Waiting for their prey to die before consuming it. There isn’t much in the way of middle ground here. It is one or the other. A venomous snake isn’t equipped to constrict and a constrictor has no venom. It is one or the other.
So What’s The Deal With the Snake in Quicksand?
The snake in Quicksand is, basically, the result of poor research and poor fact checking. It’s rather embarrassing as well, to be honest. They have used a boa constrictor and had it attack Josh resulting in him being injected with venom. Even though Boa Constrictors don’t have any venom at all. At the very worst, a Boa Constrictor bite might cause a nasty laceration. But if you are just minding your own business, they are unlikely to bite you.
But why does the snake bite Josh? Well, the ridiculous reason is that it is protecting its nest. One of the eggs is next to the couple on top of the sand. Guess what? Boa Constrictors are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young. Whereas snakes like pythons will lay eggs and brood them (coil around them). Boas pop their babies out and they are on their own. It’s goodbye and good luck. Boas have no mothering instinct. This movie is so lazily researched.
What Does The Venom Do to Josh?
The venom from the very not at all venomous Boa Constrictor causes Josh’s blood to clot. The vast majority of highly venomous snakes are front fanged and belong to the Viperidae and Elapidae groups. Viperidae being snakes like Pit Vipers and Rattlesnakes and Elapidae being snakes like Black Mambas and most Cobras. We also have a whole bunch of snakes from the Colubridae group that may have some degree of venom. Colubrids are some of the more familiar pet snakes and most are not venomous, with King Snakes and Corn Snakes belonging to the group. But Colubrids like some Hognose snakes and Boomslangs have a certain degree of venom that is delivered through rear fangs.
Rear fanged colubrids with venom are not particularly dangerous to humans. Needing to chew on you for a fair while to deliver any kind of venom. Though there are recorded fatalities with the case of herpetologist Karl P Schmidt documenting the bite of a Boomslang being particularly interesting due to it leading to his death. Elapids and Vipers, on the other hand, have some extremely significant venom and are incredibly dangerous. The venom of the two groups seems to act in different ways, however.
It is generally accepted that there are four types of venom. Proteolytic Venom, which causes tissue destruction at the site of the bite. Hemotoxic Venom which causes damage to red blood cells, potentially causing clotting or preventing it leading to internal bleeding. Neurotoxic Venom which impacts the nervous system causing breathing issues, loss of consciousness and organ shutdown. And Cytotoxic Venom which can cause tissue damage. We can assume that Josh has been hit with a Hemotoxic Venom due to his clotting but many types of snake venom can cause a multitude of symptoms that mimic other types of venom. Perhaps explaining why Josh is losing consciousness. The prognosis with Hemotoxic venom is better due to the slow nature of it’s effect on the victim.
Could Sophia Really Cut Out a Blood Clot?
Sophia shoots the snake with the rifle leaving one bullet left. She notices that Josh is starting to look a bit the worse for wear after his encounter with the snake. Asking him to show her his neck, she can tell that he has developed a blood clot. Remember, Sophia is a doctor so, apparently, this is second nature to her. She now needs to perform what is known as a Thrombectomy. This is when a blood clot is surgically removed from the blood vessel. This would normally be carried out using a catheter inserted into the artery. But it can also be done via open surgery. That’s the case here and Sophia’s scalpel is a massive, dirty knife.
The risks of an open surgery Thrombectomy include infection, massive bleeding, and blood vessel damage. That is when the operation is conducted in a sterile environment with surgical tools and the blood vessel is carefully repaired and sealed up. In this case, Sophia cuts out the clot with a dirty knife and seals the wound by crudely cauterising it.
There is a practically 100% chance that Josh would suffer a massive infection from this procedure. It is highly likely that he would suffer permanent blood vessel damage increasing his risk of future strokes. And, on top of that, it is questionable whether Sophia could even manage to do the operation using a knife. Josh would need immediate antibiotics, significant blood vessel repair work and some serious aftercare to stand a chance after this.
It is highly unlikely that this is a seriously feasible scenario. He would have probably bled to death the second that Sophia cut into him and, if he didn’t, would have suffered from a huge infection. The alternative, however, was a stroke caused by the blood clot so it’s a bit of a coin toss for old Josh.
Sophia Kills the Snake
Josh and Sophia both pass out after Sophia conducts the Thrombectomy. I’m not sure why Sophia did but I can understand Josh not feeling too happy. They wake up, simultaneously, an hour later. Josh has avoided going into shock, somehow, and Sophia has a plan. She uses the binoculars to spot the snake and begins throwing things at it. if you have ever been around a snake, you would understand that this wouldn’t do anything. They are barely phased by anything and the lazy bugger probably wouldn’t move. This snake, however, is feeling feisty and decides to come and see what Sophia’s problem is. Sophia uses the knife to watch the snake. A knife that would likely not be very shiny anymore considering she heated it to cauterise Josh’s wound.
She attempts to shoot it using the reflection in the knife and completely misses. This pisses the snake off and, apparently, it comes looking for some revenge. Remember how it was venomous earlier in the movie? It’s a constrictor now and is trying to unalive Sophia by wrapping its coils around her. Again, venomous or constrictor, not both. This movie is poorly researched and lazy. Sophia begins to pass out, visualising herself giving her lecture because that is the thing getting her through this whole ordeal. Not the chance to see her kids again. Luckily Josh has woke up and stabs the snake through the head.
Back to the Lasso
Now it’s time to go back to the lasso. The extra length from the snake means the lasso is now long enough to reach the rock. I would just like to point out for a second that large Boa Constrictors are heavy. Like, 20KG heavy and very awkward to pick up and move around. The thought of using one as a lasso is utterly farcical and this whole scene looks ridiculous. She isn’t even getting any extra length from the snake, it just sits in the water looking sad and dead. Dumb plot.
While all of this has been happening. Marcos has been bargaining with the scammer/hunter dude and knows that Josh and Sophia are in Las Arenas. We can assume that he has alerted authorities and assembled a search party to go looking for the pair.
Sophia manages to throw the lasso over the rock. She pulls herself out of the water and rejoices knowing that she has a chance to get out. She tries to pull Josh out but he tells her that he is too weak. He says she should go and find help. She reluctantly leaves and begins stumbling through the woods. Sophia is feeling faint, likely in shock from everything she has been through. She nearly collapses but keeps thinking about her lecture… Again, her lecture, not her children, her lecture. Sophia manages to carry on walking, eventually finding her way through the forest to where Marcos is waiting with an ambulance and a search and rescue team. She tells them where Josh is and is immediately attended to by a medic.
Does Josh Survive?
I suppose this is the big question. Does Josh survive? Does Josh manage to get out of the quicksand? Well, the answer, surprisingly, is yes. The rescuers make it to Josh and find him in the quicksand. He is alive but barely clinging on. They manage to pull him out, place him on a stretcher and carry him through the woods back to the waiting ambulance. Sophia looks on in shock as they bring Josh towards her. He looks at her and smiles, both of them, seemingly, realising that they have managed to survive their ordeal and will escape the jungle.
It can be assumed that Josh and Sophia managed to work a lot of things through while in the quicksand. They talked about their problems, admitted their faults and talked about how they should have treated each other. The harrowing experience has brought them closer together and they will probably rekindle their marriage in light of what has happened. I mean, if they can get through that then they can get through anything. Well, that’s assuming Josh doesn’t die from a massive infection or something.
How Likely Is It That Josh Would Survive?
The biggest question of all, however, is how likely is it that they would survive? If this was a real life situation, to be honest, this movie probably would have ended pretty quickly. One of the pair would have been able to get out simply by using slow movement and redistributing their weight onto their back. Allowing them to move across the surface and pull themselves out. In reality, Sophia would never have sank because that’s not how quicksand works meaning Josh would never have jumped in. This would have been some mild peril and a lesson in watching where your step when out hiking in unfamiliar places. In fact, the most likely thing to have killed them here would have been the person who was robbing them.
In the movie, assuming Josh was bitten by an actually venomous snake and not a Boa Constrictor. He would have almost certainly died after suffering the blood clot and needing a Thrombectomy. He would have, more than likely, suffered enormous amounts of blood loss as the clot was removed. Gone into hypovolemic shock and died within minutes. It is doubtful that Sophia would have been successful cauterising the wound with the knife and a lighter. If he, somehow, avoided massive blood loss. He still would have gone into shock causing drops in his vitals, hypothermia and eventual death. If none of this occurred, he would still have a horrific infection that would need serious antibiotics and a long stay in hospital. That’s assuming he didn’t die from a stroke caused by the blood clot.
How Likely Is It That Sophia Would Have Survived?
Sophia remained relatively unscathed. If the snake constricted her and was larger than 15ft, a size which garden variety Boa Constrictors like the one in the movie don’t tend to reach. She would potentially be killed and left to rot in the quicksand. The snake here is not large enough to eat her and, judging by the head size, probably couldn’t kill her either. There is a possibility that Sophia may also suffer from shock or hypothermia due to being in the quicksand for so long. But this is a fairly survivable situation. As mentioned above, though. The only thing she would be sorting out with Josh is funeral plans for him.
Thanks so much for reading and well done if you made it all the way to the end. This movie was pretty dumb and I just had to talk about it. There’s so many silly plot points. As I always say, I waffle on a bit but that’s kind of what this site is about. I like to write as if we are two friends chatting in a room together. If that sounds like something you might enjoy. Why not check out some Horror Movie Reviews, some Horror Movie Lists or some Horror Movie Ending Explained articles? We don’t tend to follow what is popular but I update a lot and all of my content is very substantial. Catch you later!