The Canyons was always going to be something of a circus, from the moment director Paul Schrader decided to cast Lindsay Lohan in the lead role, and then bring in porn star James Deen to star opposite her. Rumors of Lohan's bad behavior plagued the brief shoot, and then when the film was turned down from both the Sundance and SXSW film festivals, word brewed that the chaos made it on to the screen as well.
On one level, The Canyons is a visually and tonally precise, acid-etched horror story of souls wandering through a hyper-materialistic hell, with a fearless and, I think, stunning performance by Lindsay Lohan at its center; on another level, it’s an inspiration and an example to us all: it’s difficult for me to imagine another filmmaker of Paul Schrader’s stature diving into the world of crowd-sourced moviemaking, let alone with such fervor, dedication and rigor.”
Though press release of this ilk are usually all smiles and "it is an honor to work with this company," The Canyons writer Bret Easton Ellis couldn't resist sneaking in some of his signature bitterness:
Finally the movie will be able to be seen and viewers can judge for themselves rather than relying on the undeservedly snarky press THE CANYONS has received so far. This distribution model is the future for a certain kind of adult drama that is now officially non-existent within the old-school studio system. THE CANYONS, regardless of what you think of it, is an example of the next step in what will now be the future of post-theatrical feature-length content."
IFC has had major success in recent years bringing festival films and otherwise difficult efforts to audiences via VOD, and that always seemed a natural fit for The Canyons, the kind of movie you might be curious to see but don't want to trek to a theater to see. After all, it stars a porn star-- his movies seem kind of a natural fit for home viewing.
To catch up on the behind-the-scenes drama of The Canyons, read this unbelievably fascinating New York Times piece. Below is the film's official plot synopsis.
THE CANYONS, a post-modern story about power and the dark side of Hollywood, centers around a scheming and very wealthy movie producer Christian (Deen) who makes movies to satisfy his father's demands that he maintain a viable career. Lohan stars as Tara, his girlfriend who's hiding an affair with an actor from her past. Christian becomes more and more demanding, inviting various sex partners to join him and Tara in his luxurious Malibu Canyon lair.