The Canal (2014)
Country: Ireland (IFB)
Running Time: 92 minutes
Written and Directed by: Ivan Kavanagh
Release Date: April 18th 2014 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Cast: Rupert Evans; Steve Oram; Antonia Campbell-Hughes; Hannah Hoekstra
After found footage, psychological horror films are a favorite of mine. I love how they pull you into the story, how up is down, left is right, I love to be enveloped by the plot. That tingly feeling I get on the back of my neck, the hairs standing up, I know then it has me in its clutches. I had that feeling with The Canal.
David (Rupert Evans) works as a film archivist, he is given a reel of footage from the police archives to watch and subsequently archive by his work colleague and close friend Claire (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), which turns out to be old crime scene footage of he and his wife’s current home. It was the scene of a shocking crime in 1902, the brutal murder of a cheating wife, their children and the nanny by the enraged father.
David suspects his wife Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) of having an affair, so he decides to follow her one night, only to unfortunately confirm his suspicions. He watches Alice while she is with her lover, and then picking up a hammer, he appears to mull over the idea of using it, only to quickly come to his senses. Walking away, he throws the hammer into the canal on the way back to their marital home, where he has left their young son asleep in bed, alone in the house.
David, feeling sick from what he witnessed, as well as what he had considered doing about it, runs into the (quite dirty) canal-side public toilets. He hears something or someone coming in after him, and then sees them, their feet, under the stall door, followed by fingers appearing to creep over the top of the door. He then proceeds to suffer from quite nightmarish visions that include the man, the husband, from the 1902 crime scene footage. He seems to be taunting David, whispering things to him. David, in a state of distress, manages to crawl outside, where he then witnesses what appears to be his wife being thrown into the canal; he just can’t see it very clearly or coherently. He later comes round on the floor of the bathroom, unnerved and disheveled, and makes his way home. The next morning, when he realises that Alice has not come home that night, David goes to the local police station to report her missing. Obviously, the police suspect David, “It’s always the husband” says the (inept) detective on the case.
The plot twists and turns, is it David? Is it the entity? Some great revelations about the grim history of the house come up throughout. It’s an interesting watch that comes to a disturbing conclusion.
A great little scene, that made me believe David was the killer, was during one of his viewings of the old footage. He stood up, in front of the projector, silhouetting him in front of the screen, making him appear to be a dark shadow. To me, this was the director’s nod to David’s darkness within.
The Canal is a great psychological horror; it does very well to dig itself under your skin as you watch, and drag you into this nightmare that David’s life has turned into. I was really impressed with the performance of Rupert Evans, tormented and devastated, he made David’s pain almost tangible. Watching him seemingly fall further into madness as the story progressed was quite frightening. I really felt for the nanny, she is a totally innocent girl who just wants to protect David and Alice’s son Billy, and can’t leave even when she knows she should. She gets dragged deeper and deeper into the madness; everyone close to David is brought into this waking nightmare.
The ending is well, quite creepy and rather disturbing as I have said earlier. The story feels to me to have come full circle, and you can envision that it is a tormenting nightmare that will repeat itself over and over with future residents of the house for years to come.
4/5 – It’s rather worth a look if you like a good psychological horror
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