The horror film genre in the United States is somewhat lacking these days. When moviegoers desire quality scares, they usually look oversees. Ireland seems to have done things right with its latest horror picture The Canal, a psychological spook fest that contains many aspects of films before it but does however, offer some freshness and originality. The acting is top notch and the abidance will definitely raise the hairs on your neck. It is a film with more pros than cons and that fact is firmly cemented by an independent feel and solid editing.
David (Rupert Evans) is a young film archivist who lives a humble life with his lovely wife Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) and young son Billy (Calum Heath). When David suspects Alice of cheating on him, things escalate and David becomes tangled in a crime that he isn’t quite sure he actually committed. To make matters more complicated is a film reel that David encounters at work. The reel is from 1902 and features his house. He soon finds out that a murder was committed over a century ago in his very house. This bizarre coincidence coupled with David’s dwindling psychological state provides for a truly trippy thriller with bits of horror thrown in for good measure.
The Canal is a psychological horror film in every sense of the term. As David quickly becomes unhinged and detached from reality, he and everyone around him suspects him of foul play. His 5 year-old son and his babysitter definitely see some mental decay and the events which unfold during the film’s 92-minute runtime are evidence of his personal meltdown.
Shot on what appears to be a digital video camera and edited on what might have been an Apple computer, The Canal has a very indie feel. This doesn’t hurt the film, however. In fact, it helps it. The mood is established right from the get-go with shots of a nearby canal (hence the film’s title) against a dreary damp Irish landscape. The setting is right outside an urban berg, making for a unique and creepy atmosphere.
The main attraction of The Canal is the gradual psychological decline of our main character. David is a man who represents the everyman. He has a steady job, a beautiful wife, a cute kid and a seemingly awesome house… That is until he learns of its gruesome past. Ghosts soon haunt David or at least he thinks they do and death and regret runs rampant or do they? The bulk of The Canal asks the audience the pivotal question: Is all of this horribleness real or is it in the mind of our “innocent” main character. That question is asked time and time again in this film and it is a definite mystery.
The Canal is a puzzling horror tale that will leave you scratching your head yet wanting more. The ambiance is brilliantly pulled off by writer/director Ivan Kavanagh, an Irish filmmaker who has shown supreme skill behind the camera and with his strong script which drips with realism and at times, genuine heart. If you to see a man plunge slowly into the depths of psychosis while at the same time, experiencing a few scares, then The Canal is right up your alley.