The Canal (2014) - Ivan Kavanagh
David, a film archivist, and his wife Alice are happily married, or so he believes, living with their young son Billy. While at work, David goes through old police archival footage, discovering that the home he shares with his wife and son was the scene of a ghastly murder. Dismissing it as ancient history, David's life soon becomes shattered when his wife is murdered, leaving David as the primary suspect. Saddened by his wife's death, David begins to suspect dark spirits of the house are involved, leading him down a dark road that threatens his own safety and sanity. Ivan Kavanagh's The Canal is a superbly well-crafted horror film that relies on atmosphere, story, and tension to create a memorable horror experience. On the surface The Canal is a rather standard ghost story concept, but the way the film unfolds, exploring the psychological effect this drama has on David makes The Canal a memorable experience. David is a character who begins to descend into some form of insanity, with the lives of even the ones he loves seemingly in danger. The Canals treatment of this is what makes the film truly special, playing with the viewers perception as it pertains to David's psyche, making it unclear whether ghosts are indeed prevalent or David has simply lost his mind due to the guilt of murdering his own wife. This is a film that never falls victim to the tropes of the genre, delivering a surprisingly poignant portrait of loss. The Canal isn't cloaked in cheap scares or gore, being more intent on delivering a strong, spooky story. That being said, the disturbing sequences are well placed and extremely effective. Expertly crafted, The Canal uses a heavy dose of jump cuts to great effect, disorienting the viewer while raising the tension throughout the experience. Between Ivan Kavanagh's The Canal & Ciran Foy's Citadel, Irish cinema is on a nice little run when it comes to making genuinely impressive horror films.
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