I frequently write about horror movies here at The Seven Sees, and I am happy to do it. I am all about horror movies, movies of any genre in general really. But I grew up on a heavy dose of horror. I am not sure how healthy that was, or is, for my mind. But that’s for a later discussion.
While the movie I’m writing about here isn’t necessarily a horror movie, it completely put me in a trance and left me thinking about it long after the credits finished, much like I find myself doing after watching the latest slasher film or supernatural thriller. In this case, it’s The Canyons - yes, the movie starring troubled actress Lindsay Lohan, the star of Mark Water’s classic Mean Girls and Freaky Friday.
When I saw the trailer for this glossy noir movie, I felt an urgency to see it, like wanting to snatch away a friend’s iPhone when a sext pops up! The trailer ended with, “See it August 2nd…in select theaters or in the privacy of your home.” Now, I’m not a movie snob – I will watch a movie anywhere, anytime – but I went for the “home” option, watching it on my Mac.
The movie starts with a marvelous score by Brendan Canning set against images of rundown and trashed movie theaters, almost graveyard like. I took it to mean that because we now live in a world dominated by social media, reality shows, and 900 cable stations that cinema is on its way out. Director Paul Schrader – famous for writing Taxi Driver and Raging BullI, and writing and directing American Gigolo and Affliction - builds a mood that is hypnotic. Bret Easton Ellis, who wrote Less Than Zero and American Psycho, transports us in his latest script to Hollywood 2013 where we live in a celebrity-obsessed landscape. So who better to star in The Canyons than Miss Lohan as Tara. Less than Zero is one of my favorite movies; I can’t relate at all to the drug use, but the sadness and style of the movie is mesmerizing, much like The Canyons. Mulholland Drive also comes to mind and is very similar to these films. It is inevitable that we, as an audience, will find something to relate to unfolding in front of us.
Sadly, The Canyons is full of relatable characters, relatable at least to anyone who has ever lived in Hollywood. Ryan, nicely played by Nolan Funk from “Glee” and The House at the End of the Street, is the social climber – he will do anything for anyone at any price. James Deen, the porn star making his mainstream debut here, plays psychotic movie producer Christian, who has fun controlling people. (Why do I live in this town again?) Tara and Christian have a very twisted relationship, and that’s putting it mildly. Christian likes to invite people into their bedroom – sometimes just a third person, sometimes another couple – and film it with Tara. (Yes, the movie has plenty of nudity). As if that wasn’t interesting enough, here’s where things get crazy – before Tara and Christian were together, she was in a relationship with Ryan when they were struggling actors and models. Growing tired of Christian’s crazy ways but not sure how to move forward, Tara wants Ryan back, but not the poor lifestyle. Gasp! She would have to work again! I have seen this relationship struggle quite a few times and have lived it myself.
Lohan really shines in one particular scene with Funk; she isn’t quite sure how to get her point across, maybe she is struggling with her lines, but either way, I think she has finally found the part she was born to play. Very believable. Though I found the most likable character to be Christian’s assistant Gina, who is also Ryan’s girlfriend, who gets Ryan the lead in Christian’s upcoming movie.
Everyone is using everyone in this movie, be it for sex, control, love or acceptance. Watching this soap opera unfold in the town I call home is fun, scary, and sexy. But like the tag line says, “Visit a place where you have nothing to lose but yourself,” well, at least until the movie ends…and it might be the scariest movie I have seen this year!
The Canyons is playing in select theaters and available on cable VOD and digital outlets including SundanceNOW, iTunes, Amazon Streaming, PS3 Playstation Unlimited, XBOX Zune, Google PLAY and YouTube.