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RED CANYON
DVD region 2. Chelsea Films.

Red CanyonPopping up out of nowhere, Red Canyon is a surprisingly effective and, by the time it’s finished, thoroughly warped slice of modern horror that takes its cues from survivalist shockers of the 1970’s.

The film opens up with something bad happening to brother and sister Devon (Tim Drazl) and Regina (Christine Lakin) – something we see in fast cut snippets and will slowly uncover as the film progresses and Regina’s half buried memories, seen mostly in nightmares, slowly come back to her. After moving away, the pair are back home in their one horse desert home, with city slicker, horror movie stereotype mates along for the ride. No sooner have they returned than they are getting on the wrong side of the local rednecks, and after Regina bizarrely returns to the scene of her earlier trauma and is attacked by local thug Norman Reedus, the group find themselves besieged in their run down house (where even the toilet is broken).

Red CanyonWhat follows is a solid revamp of home invasion horror, channelling elements of The Hills Have Eyes, Poor White Trash, Straw Dogs and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre along the way. But the film lifts itself from the usual rut with a series of twists – you really don’t know who (if anyone) to trust, and while the suspicious behaviour of one main character hints that he might not be all he seems, just how he figures in the unfolding story is a real surprise – and leads to what might well be the most morally twisted and grimly downbeat finale you’ll see this year.

The cast handle their roles well – though in the grand tradition of modern horror, a couple of characters are so annoying that you can’t wait to be rid of them – and debuting director Giovanni Rodriguez (who also co-wrote with Laura Pratt) handles the action well, building some genuine suspense and letting the story build slowly, keeping the film full of twists and turns. On the downside, the mostly nocturnal action is a little too dark, and effectively wastes the epic desert landscapes for much of the film, while the sound seems a little muddy (one character, though speaking English, is actually subtitled, in a move rare;y seen in fiction) – though the music is excellent.

This is pleasingly bleak stuff, guaranteed to make for uncomfortable viewing for many people – and the levels of sexual threat, gore and that unsavoury ending are all surprising to find in a ‘15’ rated movie. Fans of edgy indie horror should eat this up.

DAVID FLINT

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