October 24, 2014 The Canal (Movie Review)
The Canal is a Psychological Horror by Irish writer and director Ivan Kavanaugh (Our Wonderful Home 2008, The Fading Light 2009), premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18th, 2014, and now available on DVD and iTunes. It is part of a new wave of intelligent Horror films, filled with suspense along with plenty of twists and turns. David (Rupert Evans: Agora 2009, Elfie Hopkins 2010) and Alice Williams (Hannah Hoekstra: Hartenstraat 2014, Mees Kees op de planked 2014) are a happily married couple who move into their new home on Black Street, Dublin, that backs onto a lovely canal. Alice is pregnant with their first child and David is an archivist for the National Film Archive with co-worker Claire McManus (Antonia Campbell-Hughes: Storage 24 2012, 3096 2013). Life is going well for them as they settle into life in their new home.
Fast forward five years and Alice is back working with a flourishing career while they both take care of their son Billy. Claire asks David to take a look over some old films for her so that they can be archived. He readily agrees with no idea of knowing how doing so would completely alter his life. The films are from December 12th, 1902 and show crime scene footage from a murder that happened in their home. The murder was no ordinary murder, the father, Mr. William Jackson, stabbed his wife Margaret several times with a kitchen knife. He then escaped from Police custody only to kill his two children and the nanny.
The film haunts David and he cannot shake the dark feelings that surround him. He starts seeing a mysterious man emerging from the shadows, which urges him to investigate further. The films hold a dark secret; there were a number of families that met an untimely fate in their home, all seemingly connected to the mysterious stranger. Fractures start to appear in David’s marriage with Alice and his home life becomes tainted by fear, suspicion, and doubt.
When Alice disappears, all fingers point to David, but he is determined to uncover the evil truth behind the canal and the historical murders. David has to employ a full time nanny, Sophie (Kelly Byrne: Fortune 2013, Traders 2014), to help look after Billy (Calum Heath: Patrick’s Day 2014), and each day becomes a repeated blur of the last. David feels like he is unraveling the closer he gets to the deep terrifying truth that will tear holes in his reality.
Claire is a steadfast at his side and is unfailing in her support of him, but David cannot shake the doggedly pursuing Detective MacNamara (Steve Oram: Sightseers 2012, The World’s End 2013) off his tale. The Canal is set in Ireland and the cinematography by Piers McGrail (Dog House 2013, Let us Prey 2014), shows a rich colorful landscape with great diversity. The Canal has a quite brilliant intelligence that pulls viewers into the story, the whole time wondering what the heck is going on. When all the pieces fall together, the audience will be amazed, surprised, and it is safe to say they will have not not see the end coming. Magnificently acted, with Rupert Evans as David, who many may recognize as John T. Myers from Hellboy 2004, shows many layers of this intense character.
The Canal is a must watch, but viewers should keep their eyes peeled for all the little nuances, as well as clues, which are so quick and sharp they might be missed. There are some truly spooky, creepy, and terrifying scenes to thrill spectators all the way through. It has a chilling sadness, again affirming Ireland’s ability to create some spectacularly good scary movies. CrypticRock gives The Canal 5 out of 5 stars.