A trainwreck meets a plane crash meets a fiery car accident, “The Canyons” is every disease-ridden plague you can fathom disguised as a Cinemax late-night romp.
Everyone involved with this will assuredly want it erased from their resume, most notably director Paul Schrader of “American Gigolo” and “Taxi Driver” fame. Lindsay Lohan, who seemingly has nowhere to go but up career-wise, is the lead horse in this carousel of hackneyed goofs.
The remainder of the cast is so void of any personality that it’s almost as if they’re all porn stars. Oh, wait, some of them are! James Deen, who plays alongside Lohan, has been awarded numerous accolades for his work in the adult film industry before crossing over to co-star in “The Canyons.” Lily Labeau, who has a minor role in the film, also has a lengthy resume in porn. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast simply has no excuse, they are unapologetically dreadful.
For a film that describes itself as an “erotic thriller,” there seems to be a shockingly inadequate amount of both thrills and eroticism. The film is unrated due to the excessive nudity but is never able to bridge the gap between what’s erotic and what’s simply a naked Lindsay Lohan. Because the film never differentiates between the two extremes, it ends up coming off as little more than a frivolous softcore soap opera.
The plot, almost too moronic to even put into words, revolves around young socialite couple Christian and Tara, and their tumultuous relationship living in the hills of Malibu. They are supposed swingers, but that angle is touched upon all of two times and never mentioned again. When Tara reconnects with former lover Ryan, the two men must up the ante on one another in order to bid for her affection.
What seems like scene after scene of pointless interaction and predictable twists eventually leads to a confusing climax and an even more convoluted final sequence. All in all, “The Canyons” plays out like an X-rated episode of “The O.C.” If there was a commentary on social class or abject materialism, it’s a muddled one at that, and any hopes for a real message are buried in obscurity amid porn stars and drug-addled tabloid socialites.
Despite the painfully awful plot, acting and concept, “The Canyons” is actually a massive disaster to behold rather than avoid. It’s not quite on par with Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” in terms of outright hilarity, but it genuinely has an unknowingly schlocky tinge to it that makes for a hilarious first watch. Simply put, “The Canyons” is a horrid spectacle — one that you will never care to revisit but also never be able to wash from your memory.