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A Bitch of a Day at the Beach

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Plot Overview

WelcomeA married couple on the ropes, Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Prisca (Vicky Krieps) Capon, take a final family vacation before telling their kids Trent (Nolan River) and Maddox (Alexa Swinton) about their mom's medical condition. They'd received some coupons on the Internet giving them a deal at Anamika Resort, which they find “better than Cancun.” Their welcoming host (Gustaf Hammar­sten) arranges a day outing for them at a special beach, “a natural anomaly.” Coincidentally, they discover, every other group on this outing has some­one in it with a medical condition. Luckily, there's both a doctor and a nurse on hand with them. Unluckily, they are unable to leave this their petri dish without fainting from some kind of mental bends. They are under observation from the cliffs.

glassThis supposed “Nature Preserve” has no fish in the water. Beach sand has half covered the detritus of previous vacationers. Not a good sign (“There's some­thing wrong with this beach!”) As the day progresses a dog dies and young children become teen­agers right before their parents' eyes. Yea every­one ages rapidly from the radiation in the surrounding rocks. If their medical conditions don't kill them, they'll all be dead of old age by the end of the day.


Their hopeless plight has one redeeming factor, it's a natural phenomenon. Nature is kind, and she often provides an antidote close at hand for her banes. Natives usually will have discovered it over time. In our case Trent, aged 6, has befriended the similarly aged nephew of the resort manager, and these two dweebs were enter­taining them­selves by exchanging encrypted notes. Trent has the last one with him to be deciphered. It might tell him what his friend's uncle is worried about. Having found an ally thus might be their salvation, per (Eccl. 4:9-12).

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall with­stand him; and a three­fold cord is not quickly broken.”

There's also the good sense two now grown kids show in swimming together, with a swimming buddy, as it were. If one gets into trouble the other can come to her aid.

puzzled kidsGetting off the beach does not mean these kids are home free, because they are now in adult bodies that don't match their pass­ports in the hotel safe. They would seem like undocu­mented immi­grants with an out­rageous story. Here again Trent's friendly disposition stands him in good stead for having met the other guests and inquired about their occupations. One of them is a cop, presumably as observant as one in a Stephen White novel:

When she rejoined us, we all introduced ourselves—she said her name was Dewster. If she said her first name, I missed it. She stared intently at each of us as we said our names. I thought she was reflexively finding a way to match our names to our appearances in her memory so she could pick us out of a crowd, or a lineup, later on.

I'd seen my friend, Sam Purdy, do something similar. It was a cop thing. (95)

Befriending a cop on his vacation could also solve a related problem. The grown kids can't go to the local authorities because due to the big money involved in what­ever is going on, they will have been bought off. Missing person inquiries would be shunted aside, and the investigators from the guests' origins would have no reason to talk to each other to find their commonality. This also is demonstrated by White:

Once Dewster convinced herself that there was no one in the place who was either dead or requiring law enforce­ment or medical assistance, she said, “We're done.” She gave Stevie her business card and told her if she learned some­thing new that she should contact her directly and she would walk her through the process of starting the machinery for tracking down her wayward sibling.

“Wayward” was Dewster's word. She hadn't used it generously.

Stevie held the detective's card the way a stranger might hold a dirty diaper handed to her by a harried mother.

Dewster stopped near the front door of the unit. Over her shoulder she said to Stevie, “This woman—your sister—left here voluntarily. Lights off, door locked. No forced entry. No sign of struggle. I assume she had a suit­case when she arrived. It's not here now. No purse. No phone. She packed up, and she left.”

It wasn't news to Stevie, who looked annoyed. And disinterested.

Merideth said, “But—”

Dewster interrupted her. “It's hard to accept. For family, I mean. It is. But some­times people walk away from their lives. You don't know why they do it, but they do. Happens more than you think.” (97)

This was not Anamika's first rodeo. The missing guests will have been checked out and their passports used on their departing flights or what­ever. Each one a separate mystery. But Trent has found a log­book on the beach, listing names and addresses. It will be easy enough for his cop acquaintance to find out that some of them are missing and go from there.

Production Values

” (2021) was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It was based on the 2010 graphic novel Sandcastle by Frederick Peeters and Pierre-Oscar Lévy. It stars Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps and Rufus Sewell. The performances were good from Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps and Thomasin McKenzie. The children could have used some more coaching. The other acting was mostly hit and miss, some was wooden. The writing was flawed, the suspense-building camera angles perplexing, and no likeable characters. But there sure were some ugly faces.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for strong violence, disturbing images, suggestive content, partial nudity and brief strong language. The special effects were done punctiliously and more or less hold the plot together as one gross revelation precedes the next. It was filmed in the Dominican Republic on 35 mm film stock. Gentle music by Trevor Gureckis was pseudo-Hawaiian.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

It's an okay movie for a horror, vacation gone awry, but it's not a must-see. It won't put you to sleep, but we all know before­hand the last chapter of old age. Maybe the kids can put it off. Science freaks might get off on picking it apart. Medical malpractice lawyers will salivate. The dog's part was short.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotation is from the Authorized King James Version (KJV.) Pub. 1611. Rev. 1769. Software.

White, Stephen. Dead Time. Copyright © 2008 by Stephen W. White. New York: DUTTON, 2008. Print.