A horror film released on Halloween is evidently set up to frighten the whiskers off audiences but horror of horrors, The Canal, an Irish-Welsh horror film collaboration, fails to live up to the expectations of a good scare.

Filmed in the beautiful locale of Dublin, The Canal follows the journey of film archivist David (Rupert Evans) as he discovers that the previous occupants of his new house died in horrific ways. This, along with the news of his wife Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) engaging in a sordid affair, serves to unravel the man’s mind in the film. After the murder of his wife, he struggles to find answers to her death with his son Billy (Calum Heath).


As the story progresses, it’s clear that the filmmakers want the audience to question the motive behind David’s struggles. Instead, this writer finds the entire premise a dead giveaway. Every scene of foreshadowing becomes blatantly obvious. In fact, it’s a relief to see the big reveal finally play out in the last few moments of the film.

In all fairness, The Canal doesn’t try to pass off as a blockbuster scare-fest. Created largely for the purpose of boosting Wales’s presence in the global film industry, the acting is flawless and the script is decent with convincing character arcs, a rarity in horror films. Unusual camera angles such as filming from the ground up are also used to create a sense of uneasiness that borders on queasiness instead of relying on cheap jump scares.

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However, when released in the wake of arguably scarier films like Annabelle, this movie does little to cement itself as the slightest bit memorable in the audience’s mind. Even when compared to the recent, similarly-artsy Australian horror film The Babadook, it fails to match up in the depth and uniqueness of its tale.

While the film’s M18 rating may give you some hope that this horror flick has at least some gruesome substance, the murders feel like they could pass off as something you’d be able to catch on late night television. This predictable murder-mystery feels more like a harmless episode of Midsomer Murders than a movie that set out to spook.

Usually when the Irish & Welsh create something this boring together, it involves goalposts and empty stands. Much like their football teams, The Canal scores no points with the audience. This flick needs more than a little Irish luck to pass off as a good horror film.

Rating: 3/5

Photographs courtesy of Golden Village


The Canal

Release Date: November 6

Cast: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Rupert Evans, Hannah Hoekstra, Calum Heath

Director: Ivan Kavanagh

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Runtime: 93 minutes

Censorship Rating: M18