Morbidly Beautiful

Your Home for Horror


With two magnetic lead performances and a smartly crafted script, “Canvas” is a tale of envy and obsession that enthralls.


No time to read? Click the button below to listen to this post.

Two young sisters, Eve and Marissa, are painting a landscape before a breathtaking waterfall. Their domineering father lords over them, mercilessly ridiculing Marissa for her lackluster, uninspired brush strokes.

He forces Eve to set fire to Marissa’s canvas, insisting “the seed of creativity is adversity.”

Flash forward many years, and adult Marissa (Bridget Regan), now a struggling professional artist, is elegant and poised but cold and disillusioned by life. Marissa expresses anger that Eve (Joanne Kelly) inherited her father’s entire estate after his passing, including 80 million dollars of coveted art that she just announced she intends to donate to a local art gallery owned by the fiancée of her treasured childhood friend, Cormack (Alain Uy).

Desperate to stop the donation so she can collect on the sale of the valuable art, Marissa travels to her secluded family home, where the reclusive Eve lives, to confront her sister.

Unlike Marissa, Eve appears destroyed and disheveled, struggling to overcome her past trauma. She misses her estranged sister, who has long been absent from Marissa’s life. At first, Marissa seems equally eager to reconnect, expressing regret over her poor life decisions resulting from childhood pain.

However, the reality of her true intentions and the harrowing ordeal of the girls’ troubled upbringing comes to light through jumps back and forth in time.

As we learn through repeated flashbacks, their father was Raymond Hale (Samuel Roukin), a famed art essayist, collector, and advocate. Raymond believed his life of wealthy privilege robbed him of talent. Thus, he psychologically tormented his daughters to an unimaginable degree of cruelty to ensure they didn’t suffer the same fate.

The young Eve (played as a pre-teen by Caroline Skye and later by Bridget Upchurch as a teenager) was everything her father wanted her to be: a prodigy who began making waves in the art world at the tender age of ten. Meanwhile, Marissa (played at a young age by Leah Thompkins and later by Victoria Russell as a teen) lacked her sister’s talent. She faced her father’s scorn and developed a deep-seated jealousy and hatred for her gifted and celebrated sister.

Heartbreak corrupted Marissa, twisting her heart and leading her to follow in her father’s footsteps of abject cruelty, robbing Eve of her promising future.

The sisters are magnetic, two sides of the same coin irrevocably altered by familial strife.

One is sensitive and withdrawn, sheltered from the world. The other is bold and brass; her anguish turned to a raging fire.

Regan is especially captivating as a brutal but broken force that threatens to consume everything in her wake. Channeling tremendous rage and resentment, she harbors a furious desire to prove her worth despite years of feeling inadequate and discarded. But her only path to redemption is through manipulation, deception, and treachery.

She’s vicious, but her pain is palpable. You simultaneously hate her and feel pity for her predicament. She’s both the villain and the victim, and it’s thrilling to watch.

Stunningly shot and sumptuously scored, Canvas is a gothic-tinged drama about obsession and the lengths some will go to rise above the limitations of their birth to achieve greatness. Sadness and regret hang in the air, engulfing every magnificent frame of the film with foreboding.

Despite its decidedly dark undertones, it also boasts a wicked sense of humor and delivers a wildly satisfying ending that makes the journey all the more pleasurable.

The writing-directing team of Kimberly Stuckwisch and Melora Donoghue deliver a masterful, modern noir thriller with ample style and sizzle that will keep you glued to the screen.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4
CANVAS was screened for this review at the Chattanooga Film Festival 2024 as part of the festival’s virtual programming.

Leave a Reply

Allowed tags:  you may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="">, <strong>, <em>, <h1>, <h2>, <h3>
Please note:  all comments go through moderation.
Overall Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.