Canvas the Night (2013) – By Philip Smolen

Detective Ernie Godunov (Eric Sharp) and his partner Jordan Daniels (Jason Reed) are facing one of the toughest cases of their lives. It seems that the local art museum curator Harold Segerstrom (Duffy Hudson) has come into the possession of  a supposedly haunted painting. And no sooner than Segerstrom gains possession of it, people start dropping dead. First it’s a museum security guard. Then it’s Segerstrom himself. And even worse, a local psychic (Nora Sharp) has had visions of all the murders. And she believes that Godunov will be the next victim. But Godunov won’t back down and is determined to solve the grisly crimes, even at the cost of his own life.

“Canvas the Night” is an indie thriller from director Andrew Enriquez and unfortunately, I found it disappointing. After an exciting opening murder scene, the film bogs down and gets tedious and fails to generate any real suspense or sense of urgency. The mystery and the power of the painting are never fully tied to the murders. The idea of a haunted painting is awesome, but Enriquez doesn’t develop the connection between the painting and the murders enough. He doesn’t even have the characters examine the painting. It’s always covered. Having the cast scrutinize a real eerie and evil looking painting during the police investigation could have been great and helped the movie develop audience interest and a sense of unease and foreboding. Instead, everyone talks about how this incredible painting is responsible for many deaths over time, and yet the audience never sees the cast examine it.

The movie really lost me, however, during one of its fight scenes. About halfway through the film Segerstrom goes to the house of his secretary Gilda Jeffers (Berda Gilmore) to try and kill her because she knows too much. Within a few moments, Gilda has turned the tables on Segerstrom and she begins to beat him senseless. Is her weapon of choice a lamp or a frying pan? No, she beats up the fully grown man with a throw pillow!

The film is also let down by most of the actors, who aren’t really memorable, with the exception of Eric Sharp who does seem like he could be a cop. Cherubic Jason Reed is totally miscast as Sharp’s partner.

“Canvas the Night” is based on an audience participation play. However, the movie version isn’t a very memorable thriller and it doesn’t build to a satisfying conclusion. That’s a shame because the gimmick that it initially presents to the audience is intriguing.

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