Red Canyon (UK - DVD R2)
Our Marcus thought he was watching a home movie until the bad acting started...
Some years after a brutal attack, brother and sister Devon (Tim Draxl) and Regina (Christine Lakin) return to Red Canyon, Utah, with their friends to sell a family property. With Regina still deeply affected by her previous ordeal but with very little memory of the gruesome events, Devon struggles to keep his sister calm as revisiting the area begins to spark images from her past and the sinister details that her brother had tried to keep hidden from her.
Well Red Canyon is about the cheapest looking movie I’ve seen in a while and I've seen Sharktopus. More on the visual specifics later, but shot with what appears to be a pick up off the shelf HD camcorder, Red Canyon takes lo-fi horror to the limit and with mixed results.
I don’t want to be too mean here because anyone getting off their arse and making a movie by any means necessary is a thing I have great respect for, but I really struggle to enjoy most of what this low quality filmmaking delivers. However inexpensive it is just doesn’t counter how low budget seems to be an excuse to use horrible edits, off putting camera moves and a whole bunch of sub-par TV acting. I’m not sure why this goes with the territory as much as it does because all of these 'techniques' are precisely what destroys the illusion and constantly remind me of bad home movies and student films. That said as the story bears on (dragging its feet for time at any opportunity) I have to admit I got more in tune with what Red Canyon was attempting to do.
Once the sets ups are out of the way and I got over Smallville’s Justin Hartley feeling a little out of place amongst the other young adults, I have to admit the darkness of the story began to grow on me and Red Canyon really got dark. It’s not so much in the visuals as they mostly consist of streaky camera moves hiding any and all real detail for the most part, but the flashbacks to the Regina and Devon’s past ordeal and the drip feeding of details (that you would have already guessed way before you see them) really begin to add up to the bleakness of the situation and the dark, dark, dark ending really showed off a filmmaker who doesn’t like the clean, friendly endings that Hollywood horror serves up. Red Canyon wasn’t by any means a masterpiece, in fact it barely breached something I’d called ‘good’, but given the limitations it did show a bit of promise (though you really have to hang on in there to discover it) and that’s always intriguing.
Well as I said before, this looks like it was shot on a simple HD camcorder. The super low budget visuals are full of issues. Bad lighting causes blocking of colours, bleeding, a bit of banding and generally everything you’d consider a bad thing in the video department. Grain ranges from effective to overbearing noise, lighting rarely appears natural, reds pop for all the wrong reasons and honestly there’s not a lot of positive here outside some of the landscape being shot. None of the shots ever look stunning or anything, in fact they look like holiday videos at best but like the story, the visuals seems to get better as the movie moves along, so it’s either a learning curve on display or I just found myself growing accustomed to it.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks holds up a little better than expected but it’s still dripping with issues. Dialogue can sound muffled quite a lot of the time (it also didn’t help that one of the supporting roles is played by a man with such a thick accent they’ve had to subtitle him). The punchy bass adds a bit more strength to the weak score but that said, the score does feel quite balanced throughout the speakers and while it's not at all dynamic it does make use of all the speakers rather than sitting in just the fronts. There’s the odd shrill effect that ups the ante from time to time but at its core this is quite a basic (and often flawed) track which does a little better than expected. That having said that, the last fifteen minutes were ever so slightly out of sync so for all its good work, it still drops the ball.
There’s nothing here but a simple trailer (2:38).
Red Canyon is really only for the die-hard horror fans who might want a glimpse at the fairly routine horror shenanigans just about achieved on a budget or Justin Hartley fans who want a bit more Hartley in their life now that Smalville’s gone. Outside of that, casual movie watchers might want to steer clear as the lo-fi visuals will probably scare the shit out of them, for all the wrong reasons.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 23rd May 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Giovanni Rodriguez
Cast: Christine Lakin, Tim Draxl, Justin Hartley, Norman Reedus
Genre: Drama and Horror
Length: 90 minutes
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