31 Days of Horror Day 10: The Canal

Canal Poster

Description from Netflix:

While cataloging old footage, a film archivist finds a reel showing his family’s home – once the scene of some gory slayings. As he digs into the details of the killings, his wife is murdered, making him suspect an evil force inhabits his house.

My thoughts:

I was lucky enough to get my grubby mitts on a copy of this a couple weeks ago, but I waited until today to post my thoughts.  Why?  It was released on VOD today, and I’d like to do my part to make sure you watch this.

This is a movie that starts off with a quick set-up.  Family moves into new house, wife starts cheating on husband, wife ends up dead, husband is prime suspect, husband is cleared but still looked at suspiciously.  They don’t waste time with any of that: it all takes place within the first 30 minutes or so.  The rest of the film deals with the darkness and uncertainty afterwards.  David (the husband) is convinced that he knows who killed his wife.  A tall, trench coat-wearing menace of a man who mostly sticks to the shadows.  He swears he saw the man throwing his wife into the canal that runs behind their house, but he was too drunk to be sure.  Not exactly a rock-solid alibi.

Canal - David at wall

Before long, he sees the man everywhere.  He’s in the corner of the room.  He’s in the bushes.  He’s walking silently through the house and out the back door.  It’s impossible to tell if the man is only in David’s mind, or if it’s a demonic presence that others can sense as well.  The reactions of his friends, son and live-in babysitter are hard to judge.  Are they scared of David or scared of the monster?  Did that woman really see the shadowy figure coming out the projector, or was her reaction only in David’s mind?

Canal - Alice

We’re kept in the dark for the majority of the film.  I wanted to believe in David (perfectly played with exhausted paranoia by Rupert Evans), but my trust in him wavered as I watched.  I didn’t want to believe he was capable of such terrible things, but maybe he was.  Maybe he was only warning his loved ones from the darkness within himself.  Maybe the monster was only in his mind.  Maybe he saw the woman he loved having sex with another man and snapped, creating a darker part of himself to shove that memory into.

Canal - David and son

By the end of the movie when he jumps into the claustrophobic confines of the sewer, we’re not sure what’s real.

This is a great, paranoid horror film.  It’s built more on tension and atmosphere than jump scares (although there are a couple of moments that made me jump).  It roped me in immediately and didn’t let me go.  The strength of the characters were a huge part of it, and the disturbing imagery of old crime scenes certainly didn’t hurt.  Take the madness of The Amityville Horror (minus the religious overtones) and the disturbing imagery of Sinister, and you have an idea of what to expect with The Canal.  But don’t just take it at those comparisons: this is a monster of its own making.
And the ending is absolutely chilling.

As I mentioned at the top, this was released on VOD today.  (It’s currently at Amazon for $6.99) Please, whatever you do, watch this movie as soon as possible.  It’s tremendous.  Everyone watch this movie and then we’ll all talk about how much we love it together.

Rating: 5/5