Burning Sands is the latest addition to original Netflix movies and it is certainly one of their best. If you’re looking for the best movies on Netflix and you’re in the mood for a powerful drama, then Burning Sands is for you. When Netflix first started releasing original feature-length films nearly two years ago, most of their titles were widely panned. But over the last several months, the movies that they have decided to officially distribute have certainly improved, with titles like The Fundamentals of Caring, Barry, I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore, and now Burning Sands receiving praise from critics.
Trevor Jackson (Eureka), Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight), Alfre Woodard (Captain America: Civil War), and Steve Harris (Minority Report) star in this story that follows a fraternity pledgee through Hell Week. This cautionary tale takes place at a fictional HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) named Frederick Douglas University. Trevor Jackson portrays Zurich, a favored pledgee who was nominated by the dean (Harris) himself to join the university’s most esteemed fraternity, Lambda Lambda Pi. Zurich wrestles with the brutality and violence of underground hazing and honoring his code of silence in order to become a member.
Gerard McMurray makes his impressive directorial debut with this movie, and the cast has tremendous on-screen chemistry together. But Jackson’s powerful performance steals the show. The film does a great job of character development and revealing how just one week can change a person forever. Jackson’s performance in the last 30 seconds of the movie is likely to stick with Netflix subscribers long after the credits roll.
The film does a great job depicting the different reasons the characters want to join the fraternity. While it’s important for Zurich to live up to the dean’s expectations, he’s also trying to accomplish something his father couldn’t (becoming a Lambda Lambda Pi). Another pledgee knows it would be good for his career once he graduates. And one of Zurich’s friends and fellow pledges, nicknamed Square, is pledging so he is socially accepted at college.
Though it does have its flaws — perhaps the film’s pace is a bit too fast and chaotic — this picture delivers its message painstakingly loud and clear. Anyone who appreciates movies that are thought-provoking will enjoy this title, but college-aged audiences are likely to gain the most from this gem. The majority of critics have raved for the film, and Paste describes why this is one of the best original Netflix movies.
“If you haven’t seen this kind of movie before, Burning Sands will snatch the breath right out of you, so let the faint of heart be warned. McMurray sticks closely enough to the frat drama blueprint that it’d be easy to write his work off for its familiarity: Anyone who has seen, say, Dazed and Confused, or the aforementioned Goat, is going to be well-acquainted with the kinds of maltreatment Zurich and company suffer in the name of fraternity throughout the film’s run time. What you might not anticipate are the racial undertones McMurray scatters across Burning Sands‘ narrative, seeds of textual and subtextual affairs shown early on in a classroom discussion of methods slave owners once used to control their slaves.”
Indeed, the sparing use of the filmmakers to relate fraternity hazing to the same methods used by slave owners is emotionally effective. During a classroom discussion, a student reads that one slave owner used “fear, distress, and envy for control purposes.” These control tactics seem all too familiar to Zurich.
OTHER NETFLIX ARTICLES FROM THE INQUISITR
With a meaningful message and powerful performances, Burning Sands is one of the best movies on Netflix.
[Featured Image by Netflix]