Quicksand (2023) Movie Review – Soggy Survival Horror Silliness
Follows a married couple almost divorcing who become trapped in quicksand while hiking through a rainforest in Colombia. They will battle the elements of the jungle and must work together in order to survive.
Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we are going to be reviewing survival horror movie Quicksand from 2023. Survival horror movies are always fun, right? I mean, if nothing else, they are easy to watch. A couple of people do something dumb and end up in a situation that tests their ability to overcome the odds. Some ridiculous stuff happens, one of them usually dies and the other survives.
It’s a tried and tested formula that has proved popular for decades. Hell, even when survival movies are bad like the laughable Outback. They still manage to find an audience just due to the watchable nature of the genre. So does Shudder movie Quicksand manage to stay afloat in the world of survival horror or does it sink like a brick? Let’s take a look.
Before we begin. This movie is just so ridiculous that I decided to do a whole Quicksand Ending Explained article to breakdown the many ways in which it is completely farcical. If you want to take a look, click the link but keep in mind that Ending Explained articles are not spoiler free. My reviews always are.
This is one of those movies that you get about half way into and then start laughing at how silly the plot is. A bickering couple, who are on the verge of divorce, head out for a day of hiking during a trip to Colombia. Only to find themselves stumbling into a pit of quicksand deep in the rainforest. With nobody around and nobody back at the hotel even knowing they are missing. The pair are in a battle to survive against the elements and err.. some snakes, I guess?
As our clumsy couple sploshed around in what is, very clearly, a lined pool of water with a small amount of mud on the surface. Desperately screaming that they can’t move as the water ripples freely around them. I legitimately burst out laughing at how ridiculous this whole setup was. It then dawned on me. They have to keep this up for the next hour. How in the hell are they going to do that? I mean, where are the legs on this story? How do you maintain threat.
Slow and Extremely Boring
I suppose I should give credit to the writers for not having the characters swallowed alive by the sand. Something that is virtually impossible due to the density of the sand and the buoyancy of the human body. But even that has to be retracted as this does happen to one of the character briefly. For the most part, however, it is made clear that the predominant threat here is starvation….. Or boredom.
Quicksand, as a survival movie, has very little to work with. It’s two people stuck in sand; there really aren’t many places to go with a story like this. With this in mind, it might be no surprise to hear that Quicksand is more of a drama than anything. A very slow moving and very uninteresting drama. Matt Pitt’s remedial script offers little in the way of nuance or depth. Resorting frequently to one character shouting while another cries. Rarely ever managing to tap into the deep and troubled past of the characters.
This is a couple who are at each other’s throats with a relationship that is clearly on the rocks. They are already going through divorce proceedings, begging the question why are they there together in the first place. And the majority of the movie is spent addressing one relationship issue or another. It is a rather thrill-less affair for the most part.
Farcical and Poorly Researched
When the survival elements do kick in, they are utterly ridiculous and completely farcical. If the words “venomous Boa Constrictor” don’t clue you in to how stupid this movie is. I don’t know if anything will. Suffice to say the main antagonist of this movie is the only Boa Constrictor on earth that has managed to develop potent venom. And has also decided to abandon its viviparous nature and start laying eggs which it, of course, is wildly protective over. I can tell you from personal experience that Boa Constrictors aren’t venomous, definitely don’t lay eggs and actually make for pretty easy to handle, docile, snakes, which is why they are using one here.
It’s completely stupid and another example of survival movie writers being unwilling to do the slightest amount of research. Outback is thoroughly guilty of this as I elaborate on in my Outback Ending Explained article but Quicksand is just as bad. There are so many elements of this movie that either make no sense or are simply factually incorrect. It starts to get pretty frustrating after awhile. Especially as the movie goes on and the story becomes more and more ridiculous.
The final act really takes it a new level of complete absurdity. The things that happen in the last 15 minutes make no sense at all. It is one incredible leap of logic to the next making the story impossible to buy into. If you had, somehow, managed to buy into the gravity of the situation somewhere in the middle. The ending will force you to check out completely for how pathetically silly it is.
How Much Danger Are They Really In?
Quicksand is a flawed concept from the very get go because of one simple reason. The characters never appear to be in that much danger. This isn’t an enormous pit of quicksand. It is a small, almost kiddie paddling pool sized, area surrounded by solid edges. It’s impossible not to think that the characters could have simply pulled themselves out at any time. In fact, I would go as far as to say that these two make less effort to survive than anyone I have ever seen in these kinds of movies.
When they finally hatch a plan, it seems like they are needlessly complicating things purely to extend the story. Subjecting the viewer to less in the way of thrills and more in the way of redundant relationship drama. The characters complain that they can’t even move their arms, before repeatedly moving their arms up and down freely in the water. They say they can’t move but one of the characters practically jumps out of the water on a number of occasions. The manufactured scares here are extremely lacklustre and never feel at all genuine. There is simply no real threat and when you throw the venomous constrictor into the mix. It’s going to provoke more eye rolls than anything else.
I mentioned earlier but I feel like it needs pointing out again. The pit of quicksand that the couple are in looks terrible. The quicksand is completely unconvincing. The actors do a relatively decent job of looking fairly immobile early on in the movie. But as time goes on it seems like they go bored of trying and swing their arms around wildly. Never once looking even remotely impeded by the, supposedly, immense pressure of the mud surrounding them. The mud floating on the surface of the water shifts frequently, as well. Making it very clear that this is simply water with a bit of mud floating on the surface.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying they should have thrown them in a real pit of quicksand. But they really need to do better than this. The whole quicksand premise is a shaky one as it is. They could have at least tried to make it look good. These problems extend to some of the practical effects, such as wounds, as well. One character develops a wound, at one point, which is very clearly a stick on job that looks pretty awful. The effects department hasn’t blended it into the character’s skin meaning you can see the edge of it. It looks extremely low effort.
Average Acting and Direction
Acting is a mixed bag. Allan Hawco’s performance, as Josh, reminded me of a mid 2010’s video game character. You know when they had limited ability to scan facial expressions so you would see characters pulling the same faces over and over again? That is Hawco! He either smiles or cries; two expressions with very little variation in between. He does a fairly effective job of displaying emotion and he is believable in parts. But I had the distinct impression this movie tired him out and the script offered him very little to work with. I am fairly sure he checks out about 30 minutes in and doesn’t really recover.
Carolina Gaitan, as Sophia, is better but also suffers for the poor script. Her dialogue can come across really unnatural but she really tries. The biggest problem here is that the actors lack chemistry. It is hard to believe that they have known each other for five minutes. Let alone having been married for years and having children together. They just don’t seem connected leading to a very rehearsed and “going through the motions” feeling to many of their conversations.
Direction is lacking. I am not sure how Andres Beltran managed to make the Colombian rainforest look so bland and washed out but he did it. There are bunches of continuity issues with regards to makeup, dirt, and cleanliness of clothing. Giving away some of the filming order of the movie. And some of the shot choices are seriously poor. Especially “snake vision” which looks terrible. Despite some okay cinematography. The movie can feel quite amateurish and uninspired. I feel like there was a missed opportunity here to film in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. That would have done a much better job of capturing the majesty of the rain forest.
Final Thoughts and Score
Quicksand is a slow, meandering, and extremely lethargic survival movie. Completely lacking in thrills and full of boring, inconsequential, relationship drama. This is another example of a survival movie that isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. Viewers surely want to see people desperately fighting against the odds to survive. Not a soon to be divorced couple arguing in a kiddie paddling pool full of mud. It’s repetitive, dull and feels way longer than it is. Added to this is some wooden acting, a terrible script and a bevy of factual errors that make the plot rather laughable. Quicksand is not a great movie.