A routine deer hunting trip (filmed in and around the picturesque Guerneville area — including the Russian River — in Northern California) is the catalyst for tragedy when brothers Nate (Spencer Treat Clark — Gladiator, The Last House on the Left, Camp Hell, etc.) and Skylar Towne (Nick Eversman — perhaps best known as Michael Winstone on the Missing TV series, plus such films as Hellraiser: Revelations, Urban Explorer, etc.) accidently kill a member of the powerful Cavanaugh clan — not just any member, but the town's mayor.
It was a hunting accident; nothing malicious. Skylar, the younger of the two, elects to take the blame — figuring that as a teen he will have fewer problems with the law than his “of-age” brother. That’s the thread that slips the figurative ball of twine and sets a cascade of fateful events in motion.
There are two problems with the brothers’ solution — and neither actually includes the age of who fired the fatal shot. First, their father is the sheriff (played by Ted Levine — The Silence of the Lambs, Heat, Shutter Island, etc.) and secondly, the Cavanaugh’s run the town.
Mix in Nate’s growing guilt, the suspicion that the story of the accident might not be on the up-and-up — and perhaps dad is covering for them (some internal double-dealing in his own department) — and you have the makings of a volatile mix are in place; a fuse to be lit.
When the breakdown does come at the end of the first act — that murder charges be filed against Skylar — a series of very bad decision (by all involved) takes Deep Dark Canyon down a path where you begin to suspect that there will be no good outcome. Blood will be shed.
Chaos ensues when Nate elects to break his brother out of jail. They end up handcuffed together and on the run. What makes their plight so enthralling is that you, the viewer, can’t help but be upset with everything that followed after one unintentional death.
Two young brothers, locked at the wrist, become running targets in the woods, constantly dodging the bullets of the Cavanaugh’s little posse (“don’t bother bringin’em back alive”), while their father (reminder: he’s the sheriff!) tries to reign things in (unsuccessfully … mostly).
You quickly; easily root for these two kids — scream at them when they’re just steps ahead of their hunters, sympathize with them when the universe seems to be aligned against them. But you’re always with them, win or lose … and that’s a sign of great storytelling.
Filmmakers Levy and Tree keep the cat-and-mouse chase plausible as long as they can … and bring us to a conclusion that fits with what has transpired (look for the clues).
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