From writer and director Ivan Kavanagh comes what is officially, at this point in the year, my favorite horror movie of 2014. An Irish ghost story, The Canal is one of those movies that uses as little as possible in order to scare you as much as possible. And it succeeds on every level.
Film archivist David, played with a perfect balance of subtle paranoia grounded in reality by Rupert Evans, suspects that his wife, Alice, may not be as faithful as one would hope. So, while Alice claims that Alex is nothing more than a client, David follows her one night and his worst suspicions are confirmed; David's picture perfect life is not at all what he thought it was. Rather than react in the moment, David begins walking home along the canal where he and his son had a discussion about ghosts earlier. His young son, Billy, has told David that the public bathroom located on the canal is haunted. David does not believe in ghosts, so he has no qualms about ducking into this restroom while becoming sick over the truth about his marriage. In this graffiti laden, never been cleaned bathroom things start getting really weird. Weirder than the archive footage of his house that David viewed earlier.
Oh yeah, one of the films that David viewed before archivng is footage of a crime scene from 1902 that occurred in the house that he lives in. Yes, the house that David lives in seems to have a bad history of cheating wives and homicidal husbands. When Alice does not come home that night, the question then becomes, did David do something to her or was it the evil spirit living in the walls of their house?
As David begins to research the history of his house, he becomes more and more convinced that it is inhabited by malicious, Satan worshiping spirits. Meanwhile, the police are convinced that David is the one responsible for the disappearance of Alice.
Watching this story unfold is eerily intoxicating. Is David losing his mind or is his house the site of Satan worship? Did David murder Alice or are the both of them just another couple who have become casualties of the evil in the house? Using beautiful lighting, cleverly placed shadows and a pitch perfect score from Ceiri Torjussen, you become increasingly drawn into the mystery. As David loses his grip on what's real, you start questioning everything along with him. Am I really seeing the woman hiding in the bushes along the canal or am I seeing it because David is telling me to? Did a ghost drink all of the water from the bedside table or did David drink it and not remember? If the live-in nanny doesn't see or hear anything, what is little Billy hearing? If Billy is asking who else is in the house, then there must be a ghost in the house. Right?
The Canal challenges what you believe you are seeing from moment to moment, the increasing feeling of dread is real and the last scene will haunt you for days. Seriously, the last 30 seconds of the film are not for the faint of heart. Named Best Horror Film at this year's Tribecca Film Festival, this is the real deal when it comes to a legitimately scary ghost story. Believe the hype surrounding The Canal because it is everything that you have heard.