Burning Sands
IMDB rating:
Gerard McMurray
Steve Harris as Dean Richardson
DeRon Horton as Square
Aristle Jones IV as Drunk Guy at Party
Toshi Calderón as Chatting Probate Friend
Sidney Alexandria as Sorority Girl (as Sidney Freeman)
Keenan Echols as Big Brother Turrel
Segun Akande as Big Brother Malcolm
Rozia A. Henson Jr. as Eta Stepper
Mitchell Edwards as Stephon
Malik Bazille as Dwight
Tosin Cole as Frank
Cuyle Carvin as Officer Daniels
Trevor Jackson as Zurich
Imani Hakim as Rochon
Storyline: Deep into Hell Week, a favored pledgee is torn between honoring his code of silence or standing up against the intensifying violence of underground hazing.
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Bitrate 7716 Kbps
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File Size 1394 Mb
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Bitrate 1913 Kbps
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College Kids Must Watch
Absolutely amazing. As a member of the Greek Life community at my university, it is truly horrifying to know that hazing this brutal occurs in fraternities. I advise high school graduates, college freshman, and all members of the Greek Life community to watch this film. I applaud Gerard McMurray and the cast for portraying an important message and amazing acting. This movie was outstanding, will leave you speechless and in tears.
Hated It!
I heard this movie was awful, and I should've listened. First of all, it's amazing what people will sensationalize in order to get money and attention. It's even more amazing how many people actually believe everything they see in these movies.

As a woman who comes from a Masonic lineage, as well as a lineage within the Divine 9, I was appalled at how they could depict this type of abuse and brutality in an effort to make BGLO's look bad. I'm glad this is a false fraternity made for t.v. I have a cousin who is an Alpha Phi Alpha, a cousin who is Delta Sigma Theta, I know several AKA's, and another cousin is Sigma Gamma Rho. That's not even including everybody I left out. I became an Eastern Star, which is not Divine 9, but I can safely say that I know the untrue and unnecessary crap jealous people put out about organizations and societies they don't understand, and are not a part of, simply to try to warp people's minds or turn them off the idea of joining. Not one of us endured this type of abuse, nor were we that desperate to be a part of something that we were willing to allow it.

Pushing people into hot showers, spitting in people's faces, beating the crap out of people, and verbally abusing people. Ghetto fabulous groupie women with no pride banging all the brothers, and "Big Brothers" pushing pledges around and treating men like punks all for the privilege of going to parties and wearing letters... I THINK NOT! Humiliation and degradation. What is this? The Crips and Bloods? This is not a frat! The psychological torture and emotional breakdown behind this alone would make people quit, not join.

This movie truly has it all in terms of stereotypes, and I can totally see why several of my friends within several different fraternities/sororities took offense to this mess.

That's not to say hazing hasn't been done, or ISN'T still done to some extent, but you can't put that out there like this is how all initiates are treated, or this is what all brotherhoods stand for. That's not the case!
Nothing new
Other than a strong cast of Black actors, Burning Sands brings nothing new to this over-trodden tale of hazing brutality and frat stupidity. Missing are any drivers that would make young men want to be part of such a moronic society.

The acting is strong, the faces memorable and the brutality is palpable, but it just wasn't enough.

The film ends with the central character making a cell phone call and mumbling something into the phone that is frustratingly unintelligible. I watched a screener of this, and replayed the final seconds several times, but couldn't make it out. What an incredible oversight.
Burning Sands is everything GOAT was hyped up to be and more. To the point that putting them in the same sentence is damn near an insult.
Characters & Storyline

Every pledge we meet, from Zurich {Trevor Jackson} to Ernest (also known as Square) {DeRon Horton} are trying to get something out of pledging. Some are trying to continue a family tradition, do as their dad didn't. Many are looking for the benefits of the brotherhood far beyond the parties and the girls but those connections. Some are pre-med and want that hookup for a residency, others want to become lawyers and other types of professionals. However, to do so, they got to survive hell week and hell night. All of which is but one beat down after another. Of which there is a threat of things ending fatally.


You Fully Understood The Motive

By halfway through the movie, after seeing bruises and watching these young men get kicked, punched, damn near drowned, and more, you honestly are left questioning if it is all worth it? Yet, then the movie reminds you of the opportunities they are fighting for. Not the parties and girls, but the networking connections. These young men know a degree on its own won't get them where they want to be. They know even if they are smart, even if they are athletic, there is something about being part of a fraternity which gives them a certain kind of prestige no injury or failure can take away from them. For it not only certifies their perseverance but also leads to a mass acknowledgement of their manhood.

Women Weren't Just Sex Objects*

Women in this film, I should note, don't play huge and pivotal roles. Professor Hughes {Alfre Woodard} may come off as a potential maternal figure to Zurich, but in the end, she is just a staff member who doesn't support frat hazing. As for the women Zurich's age, they range from his girlfriend Rochan {Imani Hakim} to classmate Angel {Serayah}, as well as Toya {Nafessa Williams}. Again, none of them really play a major role, but at least they aren't just unnamed set of ass cheeks 1,2,3,4 and etc.

With that said, I must note that Toya technically could be considered a sex object. However, she has the type of autonomy most girls don't have in films like this. On top of noting she likes sex, hence why she has it with multiple men, she also is intelligent without going to college. All the while being kind of ghetto.


Not The Most Memorable Characters

Personality is in short supply with this movie, as well as the type of character development which will help you differentiate some of the pledges as well as the brothers. Now, for the ones who actually get a decent amount of lines or one on one moments with Zurich, like Ernest, you learn who they are. However, if they aren't like Rotimi, who played Edwin, or Trevante Rhodes, who is fresh from Moonlight, they blend in so well that even if you hear the name 17 times and have subtitles to know who is talking, within 10 minutes you are left wondering: Who was that person again?

On The Fence

There Was No Flinch Worthy Moments or Tears

Considering the torture these guys were going through, including getting beat with wire hangers and paddles, I was surprised there were no moments where you'd just flinch. Also, while I note the film had a well-developed motive for why the guys were going through all this, I must admit I was also surprised there wasn't an "I need this so I won't end up like my dad" type of moment. You know, some sort of emotional reason and not it just being about proving your manhood or the networking opportunities.

Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)

While this maybe a short review, in comparison to others, it is mostly because this film seems to build off of all that GOAT should have done and what I personally wish The Quad was (or is). It features a varied sense of what it means to be Black, has an actual focus on Black figures and the students going to class, and there is a strong enough lead to keep you interested in his story, along with those he interacts with.

Thus the Positive label for while Burning Sands does nothing new, it does it better than those you may find yourself comparing it to.
A disturbing story
This film tells the story of a number of college freshmen who is in the week of pledging to their fraternity house. The humiliation and violence gradually increase to an unacceptable level, and they have to decide whether to continue their so called friendship and brotherhood.

"Burning Sands" tells a disturbing story, in which young men are abused in return for a distant, unrealised dream. The moment I see scorching, I already think it is going too far, but it goes way further than I can imagine. The abuse, manipulation and exploitation are unacceptable, in my opinion. I don't understand how this pledging culture can be allowed to continue. I can only be glad that I did not study in the United States.
Solid first effort
A really solid, well-shot and made film about fraternities the hazing pledges have to go through. It is easy to dismiss this as nothing new, but the film explores themes on race and history that are very well connected and relevant to practices at present time. It is a film that confronts the audience with the violence, so that you could almost feel it, which is appropriate to the content and subject matter. The lead actor does a decent job, the rest of the pledges built good chemistry together. Alfre Woodard and Steve Harris were the strongest performers.
It's alright, I guess, but I just couldn't connect to it
Burning Sands is a movie about this group of young college freshmen who want to get into this fraternity and have to go through one week of humiliation by its members.

It's a nicely-shot film, but the whole thing just isn't memorable enough, especially the characters. The only one you actually kinda care about is the lead. The rest, you will barely remember. Also, I just couldn't connect to the whole story. It's horrible and very tough to watch and I know that these things happen, but I couldn't help but wonder why would anyone let others do this to them? Where is your dignity? What's the point of it? Sorry, but I just don't get it. The performances were pretty good and the whole feel and atmosphere isn't bad either. But it just lacks the emotion and the gut-punch. Aside from the events happening in these scenes, there isn't much to it. It's not memorable. In the end I just felt annoyed.

It's not a bad movie and I understand the point it was trying to make, but I just couldn't connect to it.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men
Zurich Condoll (Trevor Jackson) aka number 4 is pledging Lambda Fraternity at Frederick Douglas University. The hazing process is all underground since it has been outlawed. It is very physical and humiliating. Zurich has trouble maintaining his studies and the hazing after taking several kicks to the rib on the first night. The hazing also weighs heavily on his personal life, but being a part of group of a-holes is all he wants. Quitters walk home.

There is a message in the film. "If there is no struggle, there is no progress." However when the message is applied to a physical hazing, it leaves much to be desired. Acting wasn't that great. The film is about message which could have been better developed.

Guide: F-word. Sex. No nudity.
Your College Bound Kid Needs to Watch This
Good movie..Shows what happens when your self worth is so low that you think you have to pay for others to humiliate you for a fake friendship. This is how you brainwash people and create narcissistic sheep that keep you from advancing on the job..Have your college age kids watch this.
A solid version of a story that has been told multiple times
Zurich finds himself in hell week pledging to be one of the new lambdas.

The directing of this film was fairly well done; shots were well composed and looked quite good. The director was who also wrote the screenplay for this film together with Christine Berg. This was also one of his first films; I believe his first real motion picture, so it's quite surprising that he pulled of a relatively good film. He wasn't very creative with angles, but his camera movements and edits helped to bring you in the moment. When the main characters have trouble staying above water, the camera is moving up and down in the water accompanied with fast edits, to recreate how the characters would've felt. I like this, because it made it easier to get in to the film. Or to make us feel with the character they made the camera zoom in on his face from quite some distance. An example can be found at the end of the film. This technique really pays off. The cinematography too was good. The use of focus was good and created some visually good looking shots. But what made the shots look worse than they were supposed to was the color grading, something that's off in some movies nowadays and something that seems to wrong with Netflix' upcoming movie "Bright". The shots looked very dull due to the grey filter that was put over the film, which didn't give a good result. I don't really understand why they did this. Like I've said before, the editing was quite good; the pacing was right and the fast edits didn't feel forced. The soundtrack was really good and fitting to the film.

The acting was OK. The actor of the main character, Zurich, played by Trevor Jackson was luckily the best of the bunch. He showed his emotions well. He wasn't excellent, but he was good enough and did what the movie asked of him. His friend group felt like just a bunch of extras, whereby their acting to felt like nothing memorable. They were just there to be there and be their characters, but nothing more. I'm not saying that they were really bad, but I just would've liked them to bring more to their characters. To me they all just felt quite flat. Luckily there was some chemistry between the boys. In the cast there's also Trevante Rhodes, who you might know from "Moonlight". In both movies he gave a good performance, and because he was better than the rest of the supporting cast, I thought that he deserved a mention.

The screenplay was just OK and written by the director himself, together with Christine Berg. The story is something that has been told before - last year even with "Goat", to which this film often gets compared - so I was expecting some kind of twist on it, which wasn't the case. The story doesn't always follow the steps that other films have put down for it to make. What I did like was that I was able to understand the motive of the main character to go through all of this. The characters were not so good, though. There were quite some characters and I didn't really care for any of them. I felt really detached from the film, which is not a good thing. The only thing that helped with me caring for the characters was the directing and some of the acting, but not fully. Because of the flat acting of the supporting cast, and the bad characters for them to begin with, there wasn't much to be expected. And at the end there was something that I had foreseen from the start of, whereby it wasn't a surprise anymore. Even a bit before the death they get better friends, so we will feel even worse when he dies, which wasn't the case, because it's an over-used cliché. The female characters were handled well, not that they played a huge role, but often enough they are used as a pretty face in films like these. Here they have a personality and are not reliant on man, which was a big plus from me. What I did like was that the film was grounded and kept on being grounded throughout the film. There weren't any absurd things happening, or unrealistic things that kind of ruin the realistic feel to the film that similar films often have. Here the things that happen could've happened to some students.

In the end "Burning Sands" was an OK retelling of a story that has been told multiple times. This film just wasn't able to hit the emotional notes it wants to hit and this was mostly because of the screenplay; the characters were not well written. The acting too was only very good from a couple of actors of which the main actor was one. Visually this film is quite good looking, but the colors were a bit dull. That's why this film gets a 7/10.
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