It Stains the Sands Red is more than just a quirky out-of-the-box post-apocalyptic zombie horror movie. It’s a character-piece allegory with social commentary. It’s weird, it’s comical and multiple themes can be deciphered, which I will discuss in this article.
After a zombie-apocalypse took place, stripper Molly is in the car with her boyfriend Nick to reach a small airport in the desert of Las Vegas to hopefully escape the destruction. But when their car breaks down they get company from a zombie. Nick is killed and Molly has to walk through the desert to reach the airport in time to catch the flight of Nick’s friend. But a zombie is following her on a creepy small distance and she will have to survive the heat, the thirst, the zombie, while she ponders about her mistakes and her little son Chase she left behind in Las Vegas with her sister.
Men are all zombie stalkers
As the film begins with Molly calling her zombie Smalls after the small dicks all men have who stalked her or mistreated her in life, it seems that the film is a social commentary about men being zombie-like not even knowing that they are harassing a woman. Not even realizing that women don’t appreciate this kind of behavior at all. It could be a good metaphor, because just like Smalls some men can be thick or don’t take no for an answer and just keep stalking, harassing or following the woman.
This even is underlined by two guys who seem to help her, but again turn out to be predators who want to rape her. And then Smalls is the one who comes to her rescue. Does this mean that one bad guy is less bad than even worse guys or could the film also be a metaphor for something completely different?
Molly’s Vision Quest
The film could also represent something more meaningful than men being stupid zombies. While we follow Molly walking through the desert, keeping herself alive with water and drugs to keep the hunger away, she thinks about her six-year-old son Chase. She left him with her sister Ali and husband Blake who take care of him, because she can’t. She is after all just a stripper, a bad mother and selfish. But she sells herself short. Now she proves she can survive in a desert during an apocalypse while a zombie is chasing her.
But there’s more to the story underneath the surface. Her period being one of the clues. It’s not a gross or comical or functional element in the story. Although she lures Smalls away with her bloodied tampon. It stands for womanhood and is therefore a metaphor and a symbol.
Although it’s obviously not her first period, this could emphasize her state of turning into a woman, a grown-up. In some tribes boys and girls have to go through a rite of passage, a vision quest to prove they are adults, ready for life and to take it on. Mostly they are sent out into the desert or the sea, without food, sometimes even with drugs to create visions to find their purpose in life. Sometimes an animal guides them on their way.
You might say that Molly is on her personal Vision Quest, a rite of passage into adulthood guided and even helped by Smalls the zombie. She has to endure trials, like a sandstorm, other forces of nature, she even has to make a sacrifice, and cuts off her finger after Smalls has bitten her. Smalls acts as her stalker, her guide, the force who keeps pushing her forward, literally and symbolically, but he also evokes feelings of being a mother, to care for someone.
It’s a very original metaphor, but not that farfetched. During her time in the desert, hoping to reach the airport for her own safety, she tries not to think about Chase. But when even her bond with Smalls grows and she is even growing to care for him, she knows she is the one who has to take care of Chase.
Molly and motherhood
In some flashbacks we see Molly with Chase. They play telephone with tin cans, which can be a symbol for the distance they have to each other even when they are psychically close. She tells all this to Smalls, who listens.
She cares more for Smalls along the way, wants to abandon him, but reluctantly takes him with her, on a leash with a tire around his body so he can’t hurt her. She even protects him when a military convoy passes them by. She hides, but when they shoot at Smalls, she tries to protect him while he hides behind her. It’s tragic and sad when he finally really dies, but he was her motivation to keep going, first by following her so she must keep going, now by showing her that if she can care for a zombie, she certainly can care for her own son.
When she reaches the airport she has a chance to escape but decides to go back for Chase. She finally realizes what her purposes is in life, what really matters to her, and that she can be a good mother. Just turning back and going after Chase, even what she had to go through to reach the airport, proves that.
And when she does go back to civilization, or what’s left of it, she finds him and defends him tooth and claw, like a mother lioness would. Just like Smalls, Chase hides behind his mother when they are attacked by zombies while she says: ‘No matter what happens, stay behind me.’ Even if we don’t know what becomes of them, that final act redeems her and she has fulfilled her Vision Quest.
It Stains the Sands Red is an odd film, with a tone and voice that isn’t easy to grasp, but there is more symbolism to it, than you might think at first glance. It’s an original allegory about motherhood and adulthood, taking responsibility and caring for others. And just like that this quirky movie turns into something meaningful but still delightfully weird.