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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Canal


Starring: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Rupert Evans and Steve Oram
Distributor: Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 14 September 2015

Film archivist David and his wife Alice move into a new house. When viewing some footage from 1902 he learns that a jealous man brutally stabbed his wife more than fifty times and dumped her body in the canal – and it all took place in his house. After a party, David suspects his wife of having an affair. He follows her and sees them making love; but, sickened to his stomach, he leaves without revealing his presence. From this moment on he starts to experience the chilling movements and visions of the killer and some frightened children. To make matters even worse, when Jack’s wife goes missing and her body is dragged out of the canal, the police suspect him of murder. But is the past repeating itself...?

British horror has really returned to strength in the last decade or two. This one is a supernatural psychological chiller (you’ll understand that description when you get to the end of the movie) which progressively and convincingly racks up the tension by degrees as events become more desperate. Rupert Evans (from Hellboy) plays David so reserved that you wonder early on if he is going to be changed at all by events. However, some people are quiet; it doesn’t mean they aren’t feeing anything. Without screaming or shouting, the tension visibly builds up in him until the deep pools of his despair shines out of his eyes, and he looks increasingly drawn and tired. All the while, his little boy seems totally oblivious and unaffected by everything his father is going through – even though other adults are reacting with shock and concern, and even a little fear at the scenes he has witnessed.

The sightings of the killer from 1902 are treated like they are really there in the room for that moment; they seem solid enough to touch, rather than being spectral images which come and go. For the fans of ghost stories there are some scenes in which something is half-seen/hidden in tall grass or in darkness at a distance. David begins to set up a camera and tripod to film these occurrences, and it makes for exciting entertainment when the figure begins to drift and then rush at the camera lens. It’s compelling viewing, but David’s descent into a psychological hell does appear to take an age. This might be a more realistic downward-spiral but in the context of the running time (when events hurry along more quickly), for me, it’s agonisingly long. Of course, that doesn’t stop the film achieving its goal with a modicum of success. The conclusion though is no great revelation for any seasoned horror fan, as it’s been done at least a handful of times before.

Extras include... a Trailer. That’s it! I’m sorry, but in this day and age that’s simply unforgivable. People don’t feel as though they are getting full value for their DVD purchase unless there is at least a handful of special features. A point is dropped for this alone.


Ty Power

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