Rupert Evans plays a film archivist who uncovers a film reel that shows that their house was the subject of a multiple murder in 1902. While he explores this reel – The Canal isn’t found-footage, to be clear – his wife is murdered and he becomes the focus of the investigation, as his life tumbles out of control.
The Canal is a classic ghost story, one that burns slow but with might. It requires extreme patients but offers some extremely unsettling rewards. Kavanagh delivers haunting imagery mixed with stunning camerawork. As Evans’ character loses his mind, he’s being haunted by a “shadow” of an old man, one who appears in chilling nightmares and in the background of footage.
Kavanagh’s film relies heavily on the atmosphere and mood to create suspense, and the constant bizarre imagery and tremendous sound design help deliver in spades.
And while The Canal is brooding, it will test the patients of some viewers, and could really use a more impactful finale. Still, it’s refreshing to see a filmmaker show such restraint and put together such an old-school genre haunter.