Review – The Canal

The Canal Poster

The Canal Poster
It’s bad enough to suspect your wife is having an affair.  It’s bad enough to suspect your house is haunted.  It’s really bad when you suspect the thing haunting your house killed your wife, but you’re prime suspect.  An Irish horror film, The Canal follows the unfortunate David (Rupert Evans) as his life, and mind, begin to unravel.

David and Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) have a lovely little life with their young son.  They have successful careers and a loving relationship.  One of those things is a lie.

When a terrible revelation that rips apart David and Alice’s marriage leads to something even more horrible, David begins to descend into a hellish madness.  Convinced that the things happening to him are the work of ghosts or demons, he launches his own desperate attempt at solving the mysteries before it’s too late to protect what is left of his family.

Delightfully ambiguous throughout, in the most disturbing of ways, The Canal leaves a lot up to the interpretation of the viewer who will surely disturb themselves more than this psychological thriller ever could on it’s own.  It’s weakness and it’s strength is that it never quite settles on whether it is a horror film or not.  When it utilizes traditional horror elements it excels, setting a shivering mood of dread.  Much of the time, though, it feels more like a crime drama, which is perhaps not a good thing.  In slipping back and forth between tones, however, it does make the horrific aspects more effective, with the few jump scares and disturbing imagery all the more frightening and repulsive.  And who would have guessed that Christmas lights could create such a completely scary atmosphere.

There is a certain insidiousness about how tragic, yet ordinary, events are juxtaposed with otherworldly horrors.  What’s worse is that we are never sure of which is which.  Told from David’s perspective, it seems entirely possible that the majority of happenings here perhaps exist only in his mind, which manages to be an even scarier possibility than a straightforward paranormal encounter.

It doesn’t quite come together though, being too confusing for its own good at times.  There’s a fine line between frustrating the characters on screen and frustrating the audience.  When The Canal stays on the right side of that line it flourishes, but on the occasion that it crosses, it wavers a bit, keeping it from being as effective as it could be.

Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film

My rating: Three out of five hats



The Canal haunts a limited number of theaters and VOD, October 10

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