The Canyon -- Film Review

Benjamin Walker
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13:  Actor Benjamin Walker attends the "Bloody Bloody Jackson" opening night after party at Brasserie 8 1/2 on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

When a young couple decides to leap off the beaten path to explore nature in all its rugged extremes, you know they are heading for the vacation from hell.

This formula has been reworked in such films as "A Perfect Getaway" and "Breakdown." In "The Canyon," a so-so variation on a familiar theme, a pair of honeymooners are traveling by mule through the Grand Canyon when disaster strikes. This potboiler has some thrills, but it will not make much of a splash at the boxoffice.

Nick (Eion Bailey) and Lori (Yvonne Strahovski) are determined to trek to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. But they neglected to secure a permit or reserve a guide in advance, so their honeymoon plans are in jeopardy. Just when they are prepared to abandon their quest, they meet a grizzled old codger in a bar, and Henry (Will Patton) offers to bend the rules and take them on their own private caravan through the canyon. They ignore a hundred warning bells to follow this rapscallion into the wild.

Dialogue is at a fairly primitive level, and though Bailey and Strahovski make an attractive couple, they aren't going to be vying for any year-end acting awards. Patton, however, gives a shrewd performance in a fairly truncated role.

The film also has some scary set-pieces: An encounter with a rattlesnake is bone-chilling, there are nasty wolves that threaten the honeymooners, and a scene in which they attempt to climb a jagged cliff crackles with suspense and leads to a shocking denouement. The end credits acknowledge snake, scorpion, vulture and crow trainers, and these guys definitely earned their pay.

Although the scenery is spectacular, the print screened for the press looked muddy. Maybe the movie will look better when it is shown on DVD, which will happen soon enough. Although the script is rudimentary, there are just enough thrills to satisfy undemanding audiences looking for a few gruesome jolts of adrenaline.

Opens: Friday, Oct. 23 (Magnolia's Truly Indie)
Cast: Eion Bailey, Yvonne Strahovski, Will Patton, Wendy Worthington
Director: Richard Harrah
Screenwriter: Steve Allrich
Story by: Steve Allrich, Mark Williams
Producer: Mark Williams
Executive producer: Verna Harrah
Director of photography: Nelson Cragg
Production designer: Tom Lisowski
Music: Heitor Pereira
Costume designer: Elaine Montalvo
Editor: Peter Fandetti
Rated R, 102 minutes