Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Honeymoon With A Side of Amputation

The Canyon 2009
Director: Richard Harrah
Writer: Steve Allrich
Starring Yvonne Strahovski, Will Patton and Eion Bailey

Open Water with it's popularity has seemed to started a new sub genre of horror films. The couple that is isolated and in grave peril with little hope of surviving. The Canyon is the latest addition to this genre. It uses the Grand Canyon as the location and as the main threat a hungry pack of wolves/ The film sets up the situation very well and keeps the tense up till the ending, where you think everything is going to end badly. However, it actually ends worse than if they had died. The denouement of the film reminded me a lot of the ending of The Mist and just like that film the ending leaves an indelible mark on you long after viewing it. This film has a very small cast, but quite effective. Will Patton does the most with his small part and really steals the thunder of the leads anytime the film is focused on him. This film has some tense moments too and one of the most hard to watch amputations I have ever seen.
The plot basics are this, Nick (Bailey) and Lori (Strahovski) are newlyweds on their honeymoon and on Nicks behest they plan on going on a scenic hike through the Grand Canyon. However, when they get there they have a problem getting a guide to take them there, as they need a park voucher to be able to traverse the canyon. They are about ready to just give up and enjoy their honeymoon when they come in contact with a grizzled guide, Henry (Patton) at a local bar. Lori is unsure at first but acquiesces to his expertise and they all head out for their adventure. Everything proceeds well until Henry is bitten by a viper and now they have to find help and escape the traverses of the canyon. Though, the more they try to adapt to their situation, the more things go horribly awry. Soon, they are constantly stalked by a ravenous pack of wolves and it will take all of Lori's inner resolve to defend her and Nick's lives.
This is a expertly crafted film. The direction of Harrah is woven intricately, at first it starts out as a idyllic romantic film, but it quickly devolves into a story of survival of man vs nature. He creates a great feel of menace with the pack of wolves and really ratchets up the tension during the amputation scene. The script is very taut. It has a great sense of tension throughout the film and the characters are very three dimensional and you really empathize with them and their ordeal. The cast is excellent. Patton as Henry is the shining point of the film. He plays a grizzled guide with perfection. Strahovski and Bailey are very good too, it is great how you see their relationship unraveling as they get in deeper dire straits. It shows the viewer that their whole relationship seems to be built on the flimsiest of frames and anything that is placed upon it seems to make it buckle and tremble. The SFX and effects are very good, with one of the most tense and realistic amputations I have seen on film and with all the horror films I have seen that is saying a lot. This is a hidden gem of a film and definitely worth a look.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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