Friday, May 8, 2015

Film Review: The Canal (2014)

The Canal (Review)
Ireland/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a slow-burn horror film with jolting jump-scares, creepy visuals, and eerie sounds."

Film archivist David (Rupert Evans) suspects his house is haunted when his wife goes missing...

The Canal continues to follow David after his wife's disappearance. On the night of her disappearance, he catches her cheating and has a bizarre experience in a public bathroom with an ominous man. After he reports his wife as missing, she's found dead in the canal. David upholds his innocence and believes the man from his bathroom experience is responsible. Furthermore, he believes said man is a ghost responsible for several murders in his home. So, David attempts to unravel the mystery. The Canal leads to a very predictable ending – you could see this coming from a mile away. However, the execution allows the ending to still be effective.

The Canal is a great horror film. It's a slow-burn horror film with jolting jump-scares, creepy visuals, and eerie sounds. Although I find jump-scares effective only the first time around, I am a big fan of visuals and audio frights. I'm talking distorted voices and eerie groans, and ominous figures in the background – I love that. The suspense is solid – it wasn't unnerving, but it was certainly there. It can be a bit too slow at times, mostly due to some dragged out scenes. The cliches are also unfortunate, but the film finds a way to work around them. Although I predicted the climax from the start, the ending has some great visual scares. I was particularly impressed by a scene reminiscent of one in Ringu. A very well executed climax makes the cliches forgivable.


The acting is good, I didn't really have any complaints. Rupert Evans does well as the leading man. Antonia Campbell-Hughes, despite her limited screen time, is also very effective. The film is shot very well. It has vibrant colors and great lighting – it really makes it stand out. The music is also great. As previously stated, I loved the use of sound to create horror in this film – reminds of the eerie groaning in Silent Hill video games. Writer and director Ivan Kavanagh shines as director. Kavanagh crafts a wonderfully eerie atmosphere and great frights. The writing is a little too safe and generic, but it ultimately works out thanks to the direction.

Overall, The Canal is a great horror film. It has an ominous atmosphere, a great blend of audio-visual scares, and great cinematography. The acting isn't half-bad, either. Like The Babadook before it, the film doesn't reach its maximum potential due to a lack of subtlety and ambition. However, like The Babadook, the film works around its flaws thanks to effective horror and storytelling. Although most critics raved about The Babadook, and I personally enjoyed it, I'd rate The Canal a smidgen better than said film. (despite awarding it the same score.)

Score: 7/10
Parent Guide: Some strong violence and blood, some sex and brief nudity.

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