This review contains spoilers.
Part of the early allure of The Canyon comes with trying to decide exactly where it’s headed. But once the movie finally reveals its chosen path, one can’t help but want to return to base camp. Elopers Nick and Lori decide to spontaneously honeymoon in the Grand Canyon. Stymied by a lack of backcountry permits, the newlyweds are forced to turn to character actor Will Patton—a grizzled, self-described “guide extraordinaire”—for assistance. Following a vague agreement at a local bar, Patton the Super Guide indeed keeps his word, leading the couple on a picturesque mule ride down the canyon, only to be suddenly batted out of the movie by a gnarly rattlesnake attack.
With Will Patton surprisingly (and sadly) taken out of the equation in the first 30 minutes, the naïve yuppies are left to their own devices out in the big bad desert. And here The Canyon forks, taking the audience down the road far less interesting. What could potentially develop into a “ghostly guide comes back from the dead” scenario—or maybe even a “crazy clan of violently inbreeding desert rapists run amok” situation—eventually gives way to a simple and extremely boring man vs. nature survival story.
Eion Bailey (Band of Brothers; Mindhunters) is unrealistically smug and content in the role of Nick. Lost in the desert without food or water with his new wife, he still finds a way to half-smirk his way through every single scene, remaining irritatingly upbeat even in the worst of circumstances. And don’t even get me started on Lori (Yvonne Strahovski; Chuck), a nagging shrew of a spouse who wails like a banshee through the whole heinous ordeal. First she balks when her husband takes a snoot of Will Patton’s road liquor, then she bitches about her kitchen colors back home, and then she starts whining about how much she wants pizza. The Canyon is like a crazy mash-up of 1997’s The Edge and an episode of The Nanny. If you removed all the whining and smirking, the movie would be 45 minutes long.
Even worse, the infuriating script paints every character as learning disabled—or at the very least, severely common-sense-impaired—to the point of audience exasperation. After wandering aimlessly through the desert for a day, Nick and Lori find their path blocked by a seemingly insurmountable 100-foot cliff. Undeterred, they decide to scale the cliff face—without ropes—only to have Lori pause 40-feet up to spontaneously check her cell phone, discover that she’s finally got a signal, and attempt to call 911, all while Nick tenuously grips her hand to keep her from falling. Their collective stupidity is so thick and overbearing, you can’t help but want to see them plunge to their deaths. If only Michael Berryman would simply show up and dispatch them all.