Director: Ivan Kavanagh
Starring: Rupertt Evans, Anatonia Campbell-Hughes, Hannah Hoekstra, Kelly Bryne. UK. 1h 32m
A paranoid love story inflames within the confined walls of a haunted house, but not just any ghost is lingering in the shadows, it’s the ghost of a violent killer. This is enough to make any film spooky but Canal just end up dragging out the age a repetition of the same old suspense scenes and delivers little else. Written like a gothic novel and presented as a bleak drama with added Ring (1998) style ghostly scares, and The Red Shoes (2005) style red herrings, the film attempts to blur the lines between the supernatural and a genuine psychological thriller.. Shrouded in the historical mysteries of the house and deluded paranoia, the film packs a punch (be it a weak love tap) on two sides of the horror spectrum simultaneously, this can easily be mistaken as a confused
David (Evans) is having some jealousy issues with his wife, who he thinks is clearly cheating on him. The strain is obvious and comes primarily from David. The movie slumps along revealing key information just when you’d expect it. David’s handsome demeanor rapidly transforms into a sweaty paranoid man who clearly seems to be the victim of the ghost currently haunting his home.
There are lots of over the top spooky shock photography and flashing lights to creep out the weak hearted. Otherwise there are long monologues of David trying to explain his innocence to the local bobby McNamara (Oram) who’s skeptical presence helps to balance the film which can never make it’s mind up if it wants to be supernatural or not.
As he battles with the loss of his wife and inner demons while trying to look after their son with the help of a pot head Irish nanny, David is trying desperately to fit the pieces together about his wife’s death and the dark history of their new home, backed up by lots of black and white photographic evidence of a previous murderer and bodies being pulled from the local canal. The film does attempt to lead the viewer down two rabbit holes at any one time. Every reason is backed up with a contradicting alternative..It’s like one of those survivor books. Do you choose to sleep in the glen, turn to page 43 or find a cave to camp in turn to page 67.
There are some really interesting scenes near the end when things start to get a little more disturbing and symbolic. We’re treated to scenes of a corpse giving birth and the psychedelic toilets are well shot well. Also it’s worth mentioning that when David is flicking through some gruesome photos there is a picture from the Sharon Tate murder scene, any significance?? I dunno, I think not.
Ivan Kavanagh has made a series of long and short movies, all within the horror genre, he is very experimental and just needs to refine his style a little more to perfect the fall backs, from a movie like this. There is a lot of repetition that seems to drag the movie out kicking and screaming to a not so bad finale then an added twist which for me just complicated things even more.
It’s still a positive thing to see that modern ghost stories are still being made. Its a genre that was almost lost to realms of comedy or terrible custom dramas. There is still an historic edge here but its very much a modern ghostly tale. It just needed some refining and direction. Providing you’ve got some patience and are happy with alternative or art house type ghost stories you’ll get through this film pretty well. It’s certainly not for the seasoned horror fan, because basically it’s all been done before.
While the movie never gets off the ground it has a few interesting qualities, although these all seem to be borrowed from the Asian market. It never seems to know if it’s a murder mystery a ghost story or something else. it’s slow, which isn’t so bad but it’s actually quite boring as well and gets annoying until near the end when it tries to pick up the momentum but all hope is lost by then, but what he does successfully manage to do is hold up a deeply intense brooding fear throughout the movie, with so much subtlety, it makes for a beautifully dark visual marvel but one which needs a stronger narrative to bolster it,