David (Rupert Evans) and his pregnant wife Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) walk into a rather big house and the couple fall in love with it instantaneously. They buy the house and settle down for a happy and peaceful married life. 5 years later though the life seems to have hit a road-block when David suspects Alice of having an affair with a client of hers named Alex. Unable to ask the question, David follows Alice one day and finds her in the middle of the act with Alex. He is crestfallen and is unable to control himself physically and mentally as he takes refuge in a public toilet throwing up and then falling unconscious himself. He returns home to find that his wife hasn’t returned yet and the following day he realizes that she might have disappeared.
The law enforcement authorities are brought in to investigate the matter and soon they find the dead body of Alice in the nearby Canal. Everyone starts doubting David that he might have something to do with her death while David is gradually convinced that there is something wrong with his house which he learns was the site of a brutal murder in 1902. He constantly feels a presence in the house and sets out to find out what is wrong. In doing so he unleashes a chain of events which would devour him and whatever was left of his family. Whether or not the house is haunted is what is left to be seen.
The Canal brings back memories of one of the most potent horror films ever made which goes by the name of Rosemary’s Baby. The film is not the usual jump out of your seat horror type. It builds up at a leisurely pace and even though there isn’t a lot happening story wise, the tension is built up to an extent that it is almost unbearable. This is achieved by the thoughtful editing which takes the film quite a few notches above the ordinary and the wonderful performances. Consider the sequence from the film which shows the character do David watching his wife in the act with her lover. The buildup to the sequence, the way he follows her, the editing showing signs of the two getting dirty any moment, the way David nearly calls out to her loud to stop her and the culmination where he sees her in the act are rendered effective purely because of the acting and the crisp editing.
The film also boasts of some genuinely scary sequences. There are a few scenes which show the presence of a supernatural entity which would easily scare the Jesus out of you. The climax in which the father tries desperately to save his infant son is also done with conviction and finesse. The gore and macabre shown towards the end is in stark contrast to what we were treated with initially and thus makes a horrifying impact. The cinematography and the background score are in sync with mood of the film and contribute to its effectiveness. Piers McGrail’s nuanced, and somewhat moody cinematography brings out the best in writer-director Ivan Kavanagh‘s cautious but effectively creepy ghost story.
If you are looking for a horror film which will take you in first with its story and narrative and then try to scare you, look no further. The Canal is an eclectic mix of horror, suspense and gore which should easily leave you satisfied after your viewing. If you are not satisfied with The Canal, than that is not because the film hasn’t worked. It is because you just don’t enjoy the atmospheric horror genre that this film tries to capture and succeeds for most of the part.