It is true when they say in the dessert no one can hear you scream, unless you are being chased by a crazy murderer with a pickaxe. The Canyonlands helps prove that point by letting a bunch of characters get slaughtered.
A group of strangers led by an expert in the area navigate the Colorado River. As they reach their first resting spot, the group incongruously separates at night and things get out of hand when the spirits of the night claim their land from the unwelcomed tourists.
The Canyonlands starts off a bit turbulent since you don’t know if the introduction is part of the past or future; is it a memory of the main character or is it a preview of the climax. If you ignore that scene you can enjoy the rest of the intro which is a collection of short dialogues, scenes of the actors walking on the canyon trails, creepy flashbacks from the lead actress and beautifully filmed panoramic shots— not that I’m complaining but it did become tedious the first 25 minutes.
The natural labyrinths of the canyon where the story takes place seem to be enough for the amount of atrocities some of the characters persist during their overnight stay. As if this weren’t enough to give the scenes that gloomy touch, there are a lot of additional details to help keep the strange vibe of this film like the shades of the lighting— it’s so dark it helps with the element of surprise even when at times it becomes predictable. Even the wide-shots aid to the claustrophobic sense the characters feel whenever they’re in danger.
The additional characters, the ones who are there to be slaughtered by the killer, are immediately outlined under a stereotype: the nerdy kid, the influencer shallow girl, the douchebag jock, the stoner guy and the been-there-done-that girl— and half of them are morons. Considering they are there for the bloodshed, you are not so concerned with creating a bond with them and they’re good at portraying their characters but it isn’t something far from what you’ve probably seen in slasher films. Although, Stephanie Barkley is an amazing lead showing a wide range of emotions while portraying the character of Lauren. She basically casts a shadow over the rest of the crew whenever she comes to shot.
As red colors the sky, The Canyonlands starts with a rocky promise and ends with a sea of blood that makes it endure its plot for a good messed up time— the third act gives everything you need from the beginning but it holds it for creative purposes. Hoping to add something new to the genre, it serves its purpose in unusual ways and with a detailed sort of historical motive.
7 OUT OF 10 ROCKS