31 Days of Hell: The Canal

Heather reviews the surreal Irish thriller.

The Canal hails from that leprechaun country – I mean Ireland, but this pot isn’t filled with gold. It's filled with terror! What is great about this movie, though graphic enough to be categorized as horror, is it isn’t exactly a horror movie like us Americans picture when hearing the word. This movie messes with your head and what is more horrifying than losing your mind? As a father, your main job is to protect your family from dangerous outside forces, but for this father it's not that easy.

David (Rupert Evans) is a father and film archivist and during one of his studies on footage of a murder long ago, he realizes that it took place in the very house he had just purchased for his family. While not a unique plot, The Canal throws in some marital stress and father issues that support a growing tension and paranoia surrounding the new home. Most of the visuals and the timing of their creepy reveal are ripped straight from your nightmares, evoking some Lynchian horror and a small dose of Lovecraft. True, The Canal won’t turn many heads for an extraordinary story or clever twists, but it’s a visually and sonically appealing film that is satisfying to consume. The plot is almost as basic as it gets, predictable even, but the believable performances carry it even if for some weird reason the slick editing and creep factor don’t do that for you. 

"There it is. There's the part where I lost my mind."

The Canal excels at promoting a surreal confusion for what you’re seeing while being sympathetic to David’s mental break down. The middle of this film is filled with intense ghostly encounters, add the ambiance of tightly scored music and you have yourself a scary movie. Magnifying the uncertainty of what you’re seeing, The Canal’s cinematography is cleverly lit, and coordinated, begging the viewer to keep guessing what's around every corner or if something is lurking in a shadow. Editor, Robin Hill uses his talents to convey the right tone, and paces the chills and unfolds the plot in parallel with David’s emotional degradation. Evans’ performance sells as you buy into the chaotic distress that has become David’s life. The climax of The Canal is not only truly sad, but surprising and leaves you in a state of mild catatonia, and begs the question of what was real and what was only in David’s mind. On the lighter side of horror, The Canal is a great addition to your Halloween movie marathon. Don’t expect it to blow you away with terror, but if you’re looking for some eye-candy and an appropriately unsettling soundscape, The Canal is all you need.


- Heather Contreras

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