First-time director Giovanni Rodriguez serves predictable scares in 2008’s lacklustre Red Canyon. Opening with Regina (Christine Lakin)’s disturbing memories of the last time she visited Red Canyon (including being clobbered by a masked mad man), the film follows a group of twenty somethings as they return to Red Canyon to sell her mother’s house. Nothing could go wrong… could it?
Of course it could. Only moments into their trip accidents and shocks abound (including some very suspect driving – who gave that kid a license?), providing the characters plenty of obstacles to try and overcome. Unfortunately the audience is given its own set of problems, ranging from coping with the film’s questionable stunt shots to its mediocre dialogue delivery.
Even when Red Canyon‘s style is put aside, the nagging problems with the film’s substance are still present. The film’s synopsis holds some promise but its execution ultimately lets the film down. With Regina still visibly scarred from her mysterious encounter, brother Devon (Tim Draxl) tries, rather fruitlessly, to defend her against the queries of their friends. As the group gets to grips with life in the middle of nowhere, as well as the suspicious locals, they soon discover the nightmare Regina thought was long past is very much alive and they begin to get picked off one by one.
Thanks to some creepy flashbacks the film quickly intrigues but the flashbacks soon become confusing interruptions to what could have been an above average horror. Providing little information, the flashbacks, along with her stinted dialogue exposition, make Regina an even murkier character, estranging her from the audience along with her fellow cast members who, thanks to the reliance on conventional clichés, are easily forgettable. The random scares that populate the film are squashed into the rather wooden dialogue for little reason, with many of them having the feel of mediocre TV movie stunts.
One of the biggest of the film’s many flaws centres on the problem it has with explanation. Little is said about why exactly the group have chosen to return to a town that clearly affects Regina so badly whilst even less is said about the masked maniac who slaughters her friends. When the friends start to meet their grizzly ends you may find you don’t actually care who lives and who dies and, ironically, neither do the characters.
Some of the film’s stylistic decisions add to the strange experience one has when watching Red Canyon. The decision to include subtitles for a man who has a slight accent is questionable whilst the supposedly central lair is severely underused.
Thankfully viewers who do make it through the meandering first 75 minutes are treated to an interesting finale that helps clarify the creepy feelings that otherwise seem to evade the supposedly creepy film. Featuring strong performances from Draxl and Lakin, the ending gives weight to an otherwise below average horror flick – it’s just a shame that such a strong ending is let down by the dawdling first 80% of the film.
Red Canyon‘s lack of explanation soon grows tiring and you’re left watching a group of twenty somethings you simply don’t care about slowly getting killed off in the middle of nowhere making it more a case of (bo)Red Canyon than Red Canyon.
Best bit: The chase scene underneath the house provides the film with a brief adrenaline boost.
Best line: ‘This is no time for a history lesson, my best friend’s head is sitting on the carpet’.