Quicksand once offered filmmakers a simple recipe for excitement: A pool of water, thickened with oatmeal, sprinkled over the top with wine corks. It was, in its purest form, a plot device unburdened by character, motivation, or story: My god, we're sinking! Will we escape this life-threatening situation before time runs out? Those who weren't rescued simply vanished from the script: It's too late˜he's gone. The alternative was no less random: Surviving quicksand has always required more serendipity than skill. Is that a lasso over there? A tendril from a banyan tree? Cuse throws up his hands at the thought. "Adventure storytelling has to evolve," he says. "People use up gags. If you're working in an old genre, you have to figure out ways to make it fresh." He cites the trash compactor scene in Star Wars as the last major innovation in quicksand cinema: The heroes are standing in muck, but the danger has been transposed from the vertical to the horizontal˜it's not sinking; it's crushing. A full generation has elapsed since that evolutionary step was taken in 1977. "I love love love adventure gags," Cuse assures me, "but the best years of quicksand are in the past."