There is a kind of glorious trash to The Canyons. This soapy Hollywood drama/thriller feels like a cross between The Hills and a slasher movie, with attractive twentysomethings having a drink in one scene and murdering ex-lovers the next. It’s mostly lurid and often laughable, but undeniably hypnotic in its power.
Much of this power, admittedly, comes from the casting of Lindsay Lohan as the lead. Her on-screen presence instantly brings out a variety of reactions, whether pity, disgust, or empathy, but we enter into this film immediately cued that her character has come from a troubled past.
The real eye-opener, though, is her sorta-boyfriend played by James Deen, apparently a former porn star, who takes strong command of each scene and plays a cold, bitter lover very well given the source material.
What’s a real shame is that the script, or perhaps the film in general, is not worthy of some of the talent involved. There’s some real potential, with the meta qualities of the off-the-rails Lohan trapped in a Hollywood nightmare, and a pulpy script that sweeps us across the Los Angeles cityscape in a confusing, yet cohesive, flurry of locales and one-off exchanges.
Not everything quite makes sense, and it’s difficult to understand some of the characters’ motivations… particularly what drives them to murder. By this point in the film though, so much inexplicable phenomena has taken place that you almost come to expect unfounded chaos.
It’s no gripping pulp thriller like Spring Breakers or a Hollywood tragedy like Mulholland Drive, but The Canyons makes an earnest, though unfulfilled, effort to breathe some new life into the young Hollywood genre.