Red Canyon opens with an obviously distressed Regina (Christine Lakin), being comforted by her brother, Devon (Tim Draxl), at her bedside. Through tears she pleads with her sibling to reveal exactly "what happened". She is referring to an incident that occurred when they visited crystal meth lab in a cave near their hometown. The horrendous episode culminates in Devon being left seemingly unconscious and Regina at the mercy of her rapists….
It’s present day, and joined by Tom (Justin Hartley), Terra (newcomer Katie Maguire) and Samir (Ankur Bhatt), they return to the small town in the badlands of Utah. Their mission is to finalize the sale of their deceased mother’s house. It becomes apparent early on in the trip that Regina is struggling with the mental scars of the previous ordeal, but she is determined to exorcise the ghost of the nightmarish experience. She is plagued by paranoia and panic attacks to the point that even her usually sympathetic brother, under some pressure from his girlfriend Terra, starts to get a little impatient with her. Complications arise when the group run into Sheriff Harley (Reginas ex boyfriend) and then stoke up some erstwhile rivalries with some familiar but sinister folk in the local bar. It seems the return of Regina and Devon is scene as a threat to the secret narcotic business apparently functioning in the remote location.
The sour taste of the trip then disintegrates into all out crisis. The misuse of a firearm found at their ranch plunges the group into sheer chaos and their attempts to call for help reveals the extent that their enemies will go to the make sure the illicit business remains a secret.
Now battling the wilderness as well as their foes, coupled with Regina’s psychological breakdown, the scene is set for a very dark conclusion…
Red Canyon is a very interesting movie indeed. What starts as a regular teenage horror gradually transmutes into something quite vile. Without being overtly explicit it still manages to record a few major shocks on the Richter scale. Not the kind of jumpy shocks that pass in an instant. But the kind of shocks linger way after the credits roll. I dare you to watch this one in front of your in-laws! It doesn’t so much toy with sexual taboos as it does scrunch them up like a pair of soiled knickers and force them down your throat!!
Don’t believe me? The very nature of the movie caused the state of Utah to suppose the movie ‘too controversial’ thus denying RC’s filmmakers tax incentives that are designed to bring filmmaking into the state. It’s quite a stance, especially considering the striking cinematography which captures the rocky Utah landscape quite beautifully. From an aesthetic perspective, I would have loved to have seen this movie in a theatre. Our protagonists often look quite insignificant against the vastness of the sun baked scenery in some wonderfully captured shots. Yet even with all this, Utah declined the accustomed tax rebates for filming on location. Dark subject matter indeed!
The Puerto Rican director, Giovanni Rodriguez, is a self confessed aficionado of extreme Asian cinema and this becomes apparent once the violence starts to flow. As the gore score is gradually cranked up, the brutality is executed with creative panache, making for some delightfully hideous deaths.
But the film is not without its flaws. The early pace of the movie tends to drag its boots in the deserts sand a little. There are also a few character twists that are almost ‘soap operatic’ in their sensationalism!
If you can get over that though, there is much to be enjoyed about this effort. There are enough subtle clues peppered throughout the film’s arid planes to warrant a repeat viewing even once the plot is known. Stick with this movie during the slow start and have a bit of tolerance for its few shortcomings. You will be rewarded with a bizarrely twisted tale regarding the depraved depths humanity can stoop to.
By Marc Lissenburg
|Released by Chelsea Cinema|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|