THE CANAL (2014) Reviews and overview

 

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The Canal is a 2014 Irish supernatural horror film written and directed by Ivan Kavanagh (Son). The movie stars Rupert Evans, Hannah Hoekstra, Carl Shaaban, Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Steve Oram.

The film’s score was provided by Ceiri Torjussen (Dracula III: Legacy; Underworld: EvolutionBig Ass Spider).

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Film archivist David (Rupert Evans) has been having a rough time lately, as he suspects that his wife Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) has been cheating on him with Alex (Carl Shaaban), one of her work clients. This stress is compounded when David’s work partner Claire (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) gives him a reel of to-be-archived footage that shows that his house was the setting for a brutal murder in 1902.

Becoming progressively more unsettled and unhinged, David begins to believe that a spectral presence is in his house and ends up following his wife to a nearby canal, where he discovers that she is indeed having an affair with Alex. When Alice goes missing shortly afterwards, David contacts the police- only to become the prime suspect in her disappearance. As the police grow more convinced that David has murdered his wife, he struggles to find proof of his growing suspicion that something otherworldly was instead responsible…

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Reviews:

“Kavanagh hardly sees fit to rely on old-school techniques to generate suspense, amping up the tension via jump cuts, red-lit interiors and a meticulously engineered soundscape that makes sparing yet effective use of eerie tones and spine-tingling scratching noises (even to accompany the old silent footage).” Variety

” … it tastes much better than it has any right to, but it still doesn’t congeal to form a cohesive whole. In addition to the tonal palette, there are a lot of story ideas running around, fighting for dominance, and a little more focus would have worked wonders. Because there are some great sequences in this film, and some genuine scares to be had.” Twitch

” … the most frightening film that I have seen since Greg Mclean’s Wolf Creek (2005). It is also one of the creepiest, most brilliantly photographed and edited psychological studies of recent memory, creating an overwhelming feeling of dread and constantly keeping the audience on its guard.” Horror News

“If it can’t quite match the full-pulp heft of its influences (2012’s Sinister, Hideo Nakata’s J-horrors), it does something not dissimilar with its protagonist’s mounting obsession, and has a genuinely unsettling manner of undercutting his – and our – certainties.” The Guardian

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“Kavanagh’s film relies heavily on the atmosphere and mood to create suspense, and the constant bizarre imagery and tremendous sound design help deliver in spades. And while The Canal is brooding, it will test the patience of some viewers, and could really use a more impactful finale.” Bloody Disgusting

“Inevitably ending on a truly grim note (it’s best to keep the opening dialogue in mind), The Canal sits on the viewer’ shoulders as a legacy of domestic horror film sits on its own; an unnerving, dread-fuelled piece of work.” Fangoria

“Unlike David Lynch, Kavanagh isn’t interested in catching ideas like fish, of linking the degradation of film to the degradation of consciousness. For this metaphorically averse filmmaker, the ritual of David spooling film and threading a projector is merely an excuse to perforate eardrums with the hopped-up sounds of arcane methods of film projection.” Slant

“Kavanagh frames things carefully. He withholds. He reveals things only partially. He lets the silences yawn out around the characters, coming at them through open doors, and up empty stairs. When the scares finally do come, the effect is even more terrifying because they emerge out of such stillness.” The Dissolve

Release:

The Canal had its world premiere on April 18, 2014, at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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Cast and characters:

Rupert Evans … David
Antonia Campbell-Hughes … Claire (as Antonia Campbell Hughes)
Hannah Hoekstra … Alice
Kelly Byrne … Sophie
Steve Oram … McNamara
Calum Heath … Billy Williams
Anneke Blok … Marie
Paddy Curran … William Jackson (as Padraig Curran)
Carl Shaaban … Alex
Alicja Ayres … Margaret Jackson
Nick Devlin … Coroner
Serena Brabazon … Estate Agent
Myles Horgan … Lawyer
Conor Horgan … Steven
Natalie Radmall-Quirke … Child Welfare Officer (as Natalie Radmall Quirke)

Technical details:

92 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Trailer: