Directed by Ivan Kavanagh
Film archivist David and his wife are perfectly happy or so he believes. When a looming secret shatters their marriage at the same time as a turn-of-the-century film reel he is studying reveals their house to be the site of a 1902 multiple-murder, David begins to unravel, and the house’s eerie history threatens to repeat itself. Dripping with tension and chilling to the core, this visceral Irish ghost story is a visually arresting and genuinely shocking journey into the darkness within.
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★★★★ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd
For this great of a film?
This great!? Wow.
I know people have already commented on the poster, but...
A seriously well crafted psychological horror film is going to
get passed up by a lot of people for a very unfortunate reason.
The Canal is the biggest surprise that I've come across in the horror genre for a while now (if it can even be classified as horror; I'd almost rather go with the term experimental thriller). It is also, however, an immensely depressing plunge into one of the darkest abysses that the genre has to offer.
First and foremost, it is by no means a perfect film. If I had to the opportunity to rewrite the script, there are some changes that I would make to certain elements of the narrative, but nothing significant enough to detract from the massive overall impact that the film had on me.
Comparisons to Sinister are justified, but its like Sinister if Sinister was drained of most of its jump scares and directed by the offspring of Simon Rumley and Kiyoshi Kurosawa. There is no hope in this story; a small corner of the world becomes so completely enveloped in despair and hopelessness that it shatters and falls far below the surface, far beyond the prospect of repair.
Rarely do filmmakers follow their protagonists with such close (but beautifully unreliable) narration, to the point that the viewers can no longer extract themselves from the quickly disintegrating mind of the main character. And it becomes quite frightening, quite quickly, and having to observe what must be one of the cutest children in Ireland in peril for over ninety minutes is also no easy task.
We do need to sign a petition to get the poster changed.
In the meantime though, if you're interested in going on a surreal psychological journey into the mind of an irreparable soul,
look no further than The Canal.
Give it twenty minutes and a haunting,
dreamlike ride into one man's hell will begin.
★★★★★ review by Jim Drew on Letterboxd
★★★★ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd
legitimately THE cutest kid in any film I've ever seen
★★★★ review by Terése Flynn on Letterboxd
The Canal has ingredients we've all seen before: Couple moves into a house. Is it haunted? Murder mystery. Shadowy creature lurking in the corners of the room. Is he insane or is he not? The kid! Protect the kid! Is there someone living in the walls? The babysitter. Demons. Occult rituals... Well, you get the point. But I've seldom, in more modern times, seen all of these ingredients being so well executed as in The Canal, I even got one of those fantastic endings that I love (which maybe is the biggest reason for the four star rating).
With this said, I'm not sure how fun and effective this movie is if you haven't had a fear of shadowy creatures standing in the dark. It was one of my biggest fear as kid. I even refused to have any corners in my room unfurnished. Because if they were, those corners would make a good place for a dark long lean man to just stand in. Staring at me all night. Creeping me out way more than the monsters under the bed. At least they couldn't get to you if you kept your legs and arms on the bed. And that face staring at you with big scary eyes if you looked out a window when it was dark outside (even though you lived on the fifth floor of an apartment building), that one you could ignore with the help of curtains.
But let's say that we take away the scenes with that creepy mysterious man, what's left? Well, The Canal is intense, throwing us into the madness after a very short build-up. And for me, it succeeds in keeping the intensity all the way till the end. I'm not even left disappointed when the last pieces of the puzzle unravel, because there's more than the mystery to entertain you, and it doesn't end without me getting some true body horror in this psychological - and paranormal horror madness.
★★★★ review by Waldo on Letterboxd
This was a complete surprise. An Irish horror story with a genuine scary atmosphere and also dares to go into deep, dark places. A guy discovers his home was the scene of a crime like 100 years ago and suspects his wife is cheating on him. A double whammy! The less you know about it the better. Horror fans will really appreciate the skills behind and in front of the camera. Ignore the low ratings, horror fans!
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