Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Canal (Review) - Trailers Can Be Deceiving

There are some great new features hitting both the festival circuit and VOD market. Recently I came across a trailer for The Canal which by all accounts gave me the willies! Of course once you see a trailer with that much power (confirmed by several other trusted members of the midnight society ie my fellow horror nerds) you want to know if the movie can hold up. Did the filmmaker or distributor dump all the goodies in the two minute blurb you get to see to entice you into a formal viewing? 


Set in rural Ireland, The Canal stars Rupert Evands (Hellboy) as David, a film archivist with a moribd fascination for old films in which the subjects have since died. Right after learning that his wife (Hannah Hoekstra) may be cheating on him, she mysteriously disappears at the same time that his assistant Clair (Antonia Campbell Huges0 finds an old reel of film that points to a murder  that took place in his house a hundred years ago. David starts to suspect her disappearnace may involve some form of supernatural but he also quickly becomes the prime suspect.

Ivan Kavanagh creates some truly brilliant supernatural images and sets a rather bleak and gloomy tone for his picture. While it is appropriate it is not sustained. The movie quickly turns from a potentially beuatiful piece of supernatural horror into a murder mystery. I fear that we have seen similar twists one too many times which turns what may have been a unique paranormal investigation into a psychological thriller. It movies slowly with few burts to keep the viewer arroused. While it ends strong, getting to the finale may be difficult for less patient viewers. The performances are strong mind you. It's just paced to reveal a mythodical ghost story and there's no ghost carrot to spur you to the end.

This is my first experience with Kavanagh's work. It is not a bad movie by any means, but when compared to the panic inducing trailer, I'm afraid The Canal doesn't deliver the scares. Watching The Canal reinforced the idea that sometimes less truly is more. Short horror fiction can be more effective than longer developed story. The Canal didn't need to be a full length picture, but the audience wants a full length movie. Shorts are a point of discrimination from both a marketing standpoint and price point. I'd like to see The Canal again, short with fat trimmed.

The Canal is available on VOD now (premiered October 10th).

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