Film archivist David (Rupert Evans) and his pregnant wife Alice (Hannah Hoesktra) move into a house near the canal. Five years later strange things start to happen and it all begins with some old police footage. While David is reviewing the footage, he realizes that it shows a crime scene where a brutal murder took place in his house over 100 years ago. Soon after seeing this footage, David discovered that Alice is cheating on him and she disappears that same night. As the husband, David almost instantly becomes the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance. When her body is found in the canal it is initially ruled as an accident, but David believes that an evil presence in his house is responsible. He becomes more and more unhinged as he tries to find proof that there is something sinister that not only killed his wife, but is also after him and his son.
The first thing I have to say about this film is WOW. It was way scarier than I was anticipating. From what little I knew about this film, I expected it to be more of a psychological thriller. It definitely was psychological in many aspects, but the imagery centering around the supernatural elements was both subtle and bone-chilling. When there are spirits involved in the scene you never really fully see them. It is all very suggestive and hidden in the shadows. Evans definitely added to how scary this film is. He did an amazing job not only going from this happily married man to a grieving widower (who may be going insane), but also reacting in such an intense way to the supernatural elements that you can’t help but feel his fear.
Stylistically, this film was really quite beautiful. Many of the scenes were set up in such a way that it was almost like looking at a painting. In one particular scene, David sees an apparition and attempts to capture it on film to prove it exists. When you see the apparition, it is absolutely terrifying, but the way the scene is composed it is also so gorgeous you can’t look away. I believe the fact that the imagery is beautiful and entrancing also adds to the feeling of madness. It is almost like you are losing your mind along with David. It all culminates in the climax of the film when more and more is revealed in rapid, horrific images until everything finally comes together.
During the film, you discover that the original murder in 1902 and what happened to David’s wife were not the only tragedies that occurred around the canal. There are several incidences in which the canal appears to be the epicenter for murder and mayhem. It makes you wonder why David and Alice managed to live in the house for five years without any odd happenings. It seems very likely that when David discovered his wife was having an affair it opened him up to the spirits in his home and the canal. The second he makes this discovery he is constantly haunted by the shadows that lurk in the darkness. He is also haunted by his need to prove these shadows killed his wife.
I’m sitting here, thinking about what I just watched, and I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this film. I’m always afraid to give any movie a 10/10, but I can’t think of a reason not to give that score to The Canal. It really was everything I want in a horror film; scary, beautiful, excellent acting, and a storyline that is both simple and imaginative at the same time. This is definitely the kind of film that will be on my mind for quite a while. The one warning I have for you is don’t watch it alone.
OVERALL RATING: 10/10 (I feel weird about it, but a 9.5 doesn’t feel like enough)