Canvas: Review

Canvas: Review

Canvas: Review. By Rudie Obias.

Deep in the chaos and sprawl of manic horror, there’s a film that tells an in-depth story with memorable characters and visuals, but without breaking the bank or the budget of big Hollywood blockbusters from Marvel Studios. The lo-fi movie Canvas fits in that realm of genre storytelling, but with a psychedelic and ethereal twist that’s shockingly engrossing and detailed.

Written and directed by Ryan Guiterman (Loud & Longing), Canvas follows the arrival of a mysterious demon known as “The Painter” arriving to Earth, while FBI agent George Rohan, played by Steve Key (Mercury Rising, Public Enemies), is tasked with covering up the demon’s violent murders, so not to cause a deeper panic in society — as part of the shadow Painter Defense Agency. However, a journalist named Reila, played by Isabel Ellison (Loud & Longing), uncovers Rohan’s work. It’s a weird one, for sure.

The arthouse horror/science fiction hybrid movie shows that genre filmmaking doesn’t have to look cheap, low rent, or limited — even if your budget isn’t super high. Canvas is mostly told in rotoscope animation, where animators trace over live-action footage, frame by frame, to create something that looks realistic, but also exaggerated and trippy. Think of films like Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly, or American Pop. These films have the quality of live-action, but the creativity of animation. This gives Canvas a bigness and avant-garde aesthetic to it that’s unlikely to have come without it being rotoscoped. 

Canvas is the very definition of a midnight movie, something akin to a fevered dream wrapped in the everyday chaos of the world burning of the 24-hour news cycle. Its unique approach to world politics and storytelling is something that’s not for everyone. But if you’re on the same wavelength, like this writer’s predilections, then you might come away with a filmmaker’s vision of the world and society at large — and what looms ahead.

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Rudie Obias lives in Brooklyn, New York. He’s a writer and editor who is interested in cinema, pop culture, music, NBA basketball, science fiction, and web culture. His work can be found at IGN, Fandom, TV Guide, Metacritic, Yahoo!, Battleship Pretension, Mashable, Mental Floss, and of course, BRWC.


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