Friday, March 10, 2017

Now on Netflix: Burning Sands (2017)

Burning Sands (2017) - Directed by Gerard McMurray; Written by Christine Berg, Gerard McMurray; Starring Trevor Jackson, Alfre Woodard, Segun Akande, Malik Bazille, Toshin Cole, Keenan Echols, Mitchell Edwards, Imani Hakim, Steve Harris, DeRon Horton, Racquel Bianca John.

By Kenny Howell

I am frightened of just about everything, so fraternities and what happens on Hell Night are not something that ever aspired to when I was in college.

It just sounds miserable. You get the crap beat out of you, you get humiliated, and for what, so you can go to cool parties, and maybe a buddy will hire you for a finance job once you get out? For those that go through it, I am sure there are benefits, and there are fraternities that do great community service work throughout the country. There are plenty that avoid these hazing rituals altogether.

The Lambda Phi of the new film Burning Sands does not avoid it. They are all in and then some, basically torturing new pledges so much that you wonder why they even come back. The film follows five new pledges at an all-black university, most notably Zurich (Trevor Jackson), a man that has trouble breaking away from the traditions that are offered in the pledge, and the opportunity it could give him. But he is pushed and pushed and pushed repeatedly by the fraternity brothers who kick, beat and berate all of them time after time.

Director Gerard McMurray treats this as a descent into hell, convenient since the film ends with Hell Night, the night where pledges finally become brothers. However, they have to go through the worst of the worst to get there. It is hard to watch because you know these guys want to quit, but whether it is pressure from outside family forces or some kind of macho nonsense, they do not. You know it isn't going to end up well, and McMurray sets it up so there is no doubt by the film's horrific conclusion.

Burning Sands is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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