The characters are not the only things “Stranded” in debuting writer-directors Hughes and Sandra Martin’s shaky wartime drama-cum-supernatural thriller. Set at the height of the French-Algerian conflict, pic follows a platoon of Gallic grunts fighting off sandstorms, enemy combatants, village witch doctors and a horde of highly unconvincing CGI monsters. But most of all, they’re just fighting among themselves, and what could have been a post-colonial “The Hills Have Eyes 2” soon becomes a fit of overacted hokum that offers few genuine scares. Following a minuscule local release, “Stranded” will find its oasis on Euro homevid.
Army cameraman Michel (Gregoire LePrine-Ringuet) and his squad of gung-ho Frenchies roam the Sahara to retrieve a top-secret briefcase. But what they encounter are half-invisible (or poorly rendered … it isn’t exactly clear), mind-controlling beasts known as the “Djinns,” who, as one local savant thankfully explains, are “extremely dangerous creatures.” What’s even more dangerous is all the shouting among the soldiers themselves, as the narrative slides into visual-effects vaudeville, with each protag exorcising his own combat-induced trauma. Shadowy widescreen lensing and impressive desert locations only mildly compensate for everything else.