They have come to Death Valley in eastern California — a stark place of enduring interest to going to Europeans, running from Michelangelo Antonioni to Michel Foucault — in light of the fact that they have been summoned there by two abnormal messages from past the grave. Their child Michael has taken his own life after a dejection which he seems to have faulted somewhat for their disregard of him as a youngster, and sent them letters charging them to visit the different Death Valley points of interest on a specific day, and he will “show up” to them.
Is it true that it was Michael’s goal to pre-program some sort of cathartic showdown between his folks? Then again maybe to trigger some wrathful, hallucinatory emergency in the cerebrum fatiguing sun? Are Gérard and Isabelle adequately drinking the peyote that Michael has laid on for them? As their visit delays in the horrendous warmth, the Death Valley points of interest begin to feel like stations of the cross, and they both get peculiar imprints on their appendages that may have been put there by Michael’s apparition.