he horror smash “Paranormal Activity
” is scaring audiences silly without spilling so much as a spoonful of blood. "The Canyon
,” in turn, delivers chills not with supernatural shocks but the very real dangers within the Grand Canyon. Who needs ghosts or goblins when Mother Nature starts acting up?
The new film, enjoying a brief theatrical release before jumping to DVD Nov. 17, doesn’t reinvent the wheel so much as spin said wheel as smoothly as possible for nearly two tense hours. Yuppie newlyweds Lori (Yvonne Strahovski) and Nick (Eion Bailey) want to see the Grand Canyon via mule, but they don’t have the permits necessary to make the trek.
Enter Henry (Will Patton), a grizzled local who promises he can secure two permits and guide them to some of the canyon’s lesser known sites. Nick can’t wait. He’s a city slicker at heart, and a rough and tumble trip through a tourist trap’s hidden side is an intoxicating challenge.
Henry knows the terrain, and has the scars to prove it, but even a savvy outdoors type can’t prepare for everything the canyon has to offer. Disaster soon strikes, leaving the newlyweds at the mercy of their surroundings.
“The Canyon” doesn’t stray far from the “innocents vs. the wild” narrative, but director Richard Harrah maneuvers through familiar terrain with impressive skill. Harrah can’t massage some of the dialogue between the love birds, which ranges from touching to tortured.
Screenwriter Steve Allrich provides some gripping confrontations, and never do the main players take a “Rambo” turn for the ridiculous. But Allrich doesn’t provide a compelling backstory for the couple, even if he hints at a few tasty subplots that never fully develop.
The aerial camera work keeps reminding us the odds stacked against our heroes, but this plucky duo won’t go down without a fight.
Consider “The Canyon” another small budget, small expectations thriller that manages to outperform a good chunk of its bigger pocketed peers.