From there we meet the couple who are the focus of the story. They have left their young children in the United States and we slowly realize that their marriage has fallen apart. The idea of a failed couple in peril far from home is intriguing – it makes one imagine a hybrid of Ingmar Bergman and The Rescue. But the script fails to give the actors what they need to make this couple believable. Their first scenes lack the kind of icy dread created by a husband and wife in crisis and trying to pull themselves together. The reasons for their marital problems do not need to be expressed in a monologue; they need to feel concrete, and they don’t.
The couple decides to hike in the rainforest near Bogotá, where they immediately encounter a thief who has followed them to a remote location. After a brief confrontation, the woman and man find themselves in the titular liquid land, where they remain for two-thirds of the film. The husband tells us that, unlike 70s TV, the actual sand doesn’t pull you down unless you beat it, so they’re just stuck in the desert, waiting to avoid human and animal predators.
The idea of a couple in crisis being forced into a Samuel Beckett-like mutual stasis with each other seems like a form of therapy that should have been invented by now. And, of course, the quicksand begins to force the couple to see past their grievances and see the value in each other. The film plays with the idea that their reconciliation may be futile with their lives at stake and tries to keep us in suspense until the credits roll. In other hands, and with more faith in the audience, this film could have gone for a satisfying cinematic slow burn instead of resorting to stylistic excess. Along with a more layered and less clichéd script, “Quicksand” might have achieved something more engaging and emotional.
But despite the best efforts of the actors, the film is bogged down by mediocre writing and over-the-top directing. Real quicksand may not attract its victims, but Quicksand sinks under the weight of missed opportunities.
On Shudder now.