With overt references to Jacques Tourneur’s “Cat People” and a clear appreciation for the atmospheric creepiness of other early horror classics, Kavanagh proceeds to escalate the tension, putting David’s young son Billy (Calum Heath), trusting nanny Sophie (Kelly Byrne) and over-concerned co-worker Claire (Antonia Campbell Hughes) in potential danger of whatever’s lurking around his home. Meanwhile, the hallucinations become more frequent, to the extent that we can’t always discern where reality ends and fantasy begins.
But Kavanagh hardly sees fit to rely on old-school techniques to generate suspense, amping up the tension via jump cuts, red-lit interiors and a meticulously engineered soundscape that makes sparing yet effective use of eerie tones and spine-tingling scratching noises (even to accompany the old silent footage). After shrewdly raising the possibility that something otherworldly is lurking behind the walls and beneath the manhole cover in David’s backyard, the camera finally descends into the sewer, crossing over from the old-fashioned realm of suggestion-driven horror to the far more explicit territory of directors like Takashi Miike (who surely would approve). The pic’s early coyness offers little preparation for its twisted climax, in which this subterranean tunnel of death doubles as a perverse birth canal of sorts — an image that won’t die anytime soon in the minds of any who witness it.
-From the accompanying Variety.com review by Peter Debruge
So! We’re just about to sit down (in the dark) and watch Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal, a move we are starting to re-think the wisdom of after reading this last review. We’ve also read quite a few others over the past few days, and all of the professional critics have admitted the movie was not just creepy, but surprisingly scary. Scary as hell, in fact! We’ll let you know… especially if we can’t sleep and have some time on our hands until the sun comes up.
Click “View original” in the lower left to read the entire review on Variety.com.
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Originally posted on Variety:
“Who wants to see ghosts?” a cinema archivist asks a theater full of restless kids in “The Canal,” making a clever pitch to convince those who’ve never watched anything before the dawn of sound or color to give silent pics a try: It’s the best way to see dead people. Little does the mild-mannered film buff realize, however, that the next reel to pass through his hands will plunge him into a ghost story of his own, [pmc_film_review_snippet]an unnerving but not terribly original nor especially commercial Irish chiller that blends Edwardian-era intrigue with more recent J-horror tricks[/pmc_film_review_snippet]. Following a busy 2014 festival run, the Orchard release opened Oct. 10 Stateside.
Injecting explicit imagery into an old-fashioned possession story, writer-director Ivan Kavanagh brandishes his unusual mix of styles right from the beginning. No sooner has David Williams (Rupert Evans, handsome but bland) introduced the aforementioned film screening than “The Canal” launches into a…
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