Here’s a chilling scenario to ponder. Imagine being stuck in a muddy quicksand pit with a venomous mama snake nearby, guarding her eggs. This is essentially the premise of director Andres Beltran‘s feature Quicksand. It’s a tense, nail-biting 90 minutes that focuses on a married couple on the brink of divorce. While attending a conference in Columbia, they decide to go on a hike. Their excursion very much turns into a worst-case scenario, a matter of life and death. They find themselves trapped in quicksand, which already devoured another person, whose corpse lingers with the couple.
While this Shudder original is definitely an unnerving thriller that makes the most of its lean runtime, it’s also a metaphor for a stagnant relationship. The quicksand resembles the couple’s feelings of being stuck, trapped in a relationship with no easy resolution. Their animosity towards each other makes divorce seem like the only option. However, it’s funny what a life-threatening crisis can do for a couple, forcing reflection they likely wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Quicksand’s Take on Stagnant Relationships
The film stars Allan Hawco as hubby Josh and Carolina Gaitan as his wife Sofia. From the get-go, it’s clear that their patience for each other has worn thin. Their relationship faces dissolution. When they arrive at the hotel, they argue about sleeping in the same room with each other. They do their best to mask their bitter feelings towards each other in front of their buddy Marcos (Sebastian Eslava), but when he suggests a hike, and when Sofia demands she be included, to Josh’s dismay, they explode in public.
What this film does especially well is capture a strained relationship. Gaitan and Hawco deserve credit here for their strong performances. Their emotions, especially Sofia’s simmering anger, feel sincere. The arguments they have, be it about sleeping in the same bed together or going on a hike together, feel quite real and authentic. Even the most trivial things become a much larger issue. This showcases that their relationship is at the breaking point.
Their situation worsens when they go on a hike and then flee the safe zone because someone attempts to break into their car. Not only that, but he has a gun. The couple winds up in a dangerous area, filled with quicksand traps and massive, massive snakes. While they only encounter one snake, the reptile is so huge that even thinking about its screentime gives me shivers.
What Sofia Sacrificed and Quicksand’s Take on Motherhood
Beltran isn’t keen to give away the store all at once. Quicksand takes its time with the tension, introducing one perilous challenge after the other, be it the muddy quicksand, or the snake. It also explores its characters slowly, including the cause of their relationship woes.
We come to find out that Sofia sacrificed everything when she and Josh had kids. She stopped working and has credentials both as a doctor and an academic. The conference means so much to her because she hasn’t lectured, or done anything for her intellectual growth, for that matter, since becoming a mom. It’s not that Josh doesn’t support her career, he does, and to his credit, he understands the sacrifices she made. Her rage is directed at him, and it’s hard to say it’s unjustified. She feels like she surrendered her career to be a wife and mom.
If you want to take it a step further, the quicksand represents both a stagnant relationship and Sofia’s feelings that she’s trapped. She put her career on hold and yearns for more. The conference presents an opportunity for her, if only she and Josh can make it out of the pit alive.
Overall, Quicksand is a rousing thriller with two solid leads at its center. It’s also a smart metaphor for relationships and the challenges of married life. The film will stream on Shudder beginning July 14. Keep updated on the streaming service’s latest releases by following my Shudder Secrets column.
Brian Fanelli is a poet and educator who also enjoys writing about the horror genre. His work has been published in The LA Times, World Literature Today, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Horror Homeroom, and elsewhere. On weekends, he enjoys going to the local drive-in theater with his wife or curling up on the couch, and binge-watching movies with their cat, Giselle.