1. The Salton Sea (2002)
In this surrealistic thriller, murder, malaise, and heavy doses of crystal meth set a trumpet player (Val Kilmer) adrift in a realm of thugs who call the Salton Sea home.
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2. Alpha Dog (2007)
A drug dealer (played by Justin Timberlake) kidnaps his debtor’s little brother and heads south to party it up in Palm Springs at tbe Koerner House in the Deepwell neighborhood. The two become friendly, but (spoiler alert) this true story doesn’t end well.
3. Into the Wild (2007)
Based on the wanderings of Christopher McCandless, this Oscar nominee depicts the impact of nature and human interactions on the soul. Slab City, Salvation Mountain, and the Salton Sea make cameos.
• See related story: Discover the desert’s connection to the making of The Wizard of Oz.
4. Welcome to Me (2014)
When Kristin Wiig’s kooky character wins the lotto, she ditches her crazy pills, moves into Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, and launches a talk show on location in Palm Desert.
5. Ingrid Goes West (2017)
High-key Instagram lurking leads Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) to L.A., where she befriends an influencer (Elizabeth Olsen) and embarks upon a cocaine-fueled road trip through Joshua Tree to Pappy & Harriet’s.
• See related story: The desert drew Hollywood royalty for decades.