The Canal


The Canal

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.



Total Count: 24


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,221
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Movie Info

Sitting in an empty theater, a film archivist watches the grainy footage that will be his undoing. David and his wife are perfectly happy-or so he believes. When he finds out the home he shares with his wife and son was the scene of a ghastly turn-of-the-century murder, David dismisses it as ancient history. That is, until the sinister history ripples into the present and casts a shadow over life as he knows it. And when a looming secret shatters his marriage, David can't help but suspect the dark spirits of the house are somehow involved. In his drive to unveil the shadows hidden in the walls, David begins to descend into insanity, threatening the lives of everyone around him. Through ghastly imagery and a chilling score, Ivan Kavanagh's The Canal is an Irish ghost story that will leave you with a fear of the dark and a dripping chill down your spine long after the film's conclusion. (C) The Orchard

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Critic Reviews for The Canal

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (5)

  • Writer-director Ivan Kavanagh and cinematographer Piers McGrail fashion something properly cinematic from their watery, nondescript locations: an overcast, portal-like towpath, and a dilapidated public loo ...

    May 7, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Mike McCahill

    Top Critic
  • This Dublin-set horror rehashes every haunted-house trick in the book.

    May 5, 2015 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Injecting explicit imagery into an old-fashioned possession story, writer-director Ivan Kavanagh brandishes his unusual mix of styles right from the beginning.

    Oct 13, 2014 | Full Review…

    Peter Debruge

    Top Critic
  • Over all, the action is too cryptic, and the pedestrian dialogue doesn't help.

    Oct 9, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Piers McGrail's nuanced, moody cinematography brings out the best in writer-director Ivan Kavanagh's over-mannered but effectively creepy ghost story.

    Oct 7, 2014 | Full Review…
  • It'd be closer to greatness if only the entire final reel hadn't squandered all that horrifying potential by going with a conclusion that's far too typical.

    May 7, 2019 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Canal

  • Dec 21, 2015
    Kavanagh is an excellent director who cares about building a disturbing, eerie atmosphere with a superb cinematography and sound design, and the result is a terrifying movie that could have really become a classic if it weren't for its last ten minutes with such a silly, clichéd twist.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2015
    This quite a good horror film with an effectively moody and, somewhat, creepy story and a pretty damn excellent ending that will surprise some people. I don't mean surprising in the sense that it gives us a great twist that completely changes the story but I do mean in the sense that you're really not expecting that to happen. I thought the film was good from the start but I think the ending does make the movie better because it gives it a much more disturbing touch, particularly the end result of the manipulation by these "demons". The movie combines ghost story with flashes of fairly violent imagery of what happened in David's house back in 1902. It's also well-written, solidly acted and well-shot. I honestly thought that the usage of the old camera did actually make for a creepier element to some of the scenes where David uses the camera to reveal the 'man' who committed these murders in his house. I do think the movie becomes a little muddled, in a sense, by combining two different ghost stories into one. What does Alice's ghost, David's wife, whom he believes was murdered by the same man who committed the atrocities in his house, have anything to do with the spirit/demon/ghost plaguing David's house. If they did explain what one had to do with the other then I seriously missed it because I cannot comprehend what one has to the with the other. That is, perhaps, the film's only weakness really. I don't wanna say it's a movie that's a scare-a-minute. And it's not even as good as The Babadook was, from an overall perspective, since parts of this reminded me of the aforementioned film. But if you're looking for a more straightforward horror film as compared to The Babadook then this would be the safe bet. Still, in spite of its flaws, I think this is a movie that will surprise a lot of people since there are, generally, lower expectations with horror films than with almost any other genre in existence. This is quite the good movie with a good and creepy ghost story. Perhaps the dialogue could've used some work, but this is a good movie to watch on Netflix.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jan 23, 2015
    Director Ivan Kavangh somehow proves once again that he is capable of taking a tired premise, handling it poorly, and yet still somehow manage to churn out quite a good film.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 27, 2014
    Strange when two very similar movies come out on the same year and both are equally great for very different reasons. The Canal has a lot in common with The Babadook but dealing with very different themes and a very different approach. Whilst Babadook was more traditional on its narrative, giving an ambiguous but flawed ending; The Canal is ambiguous right from the start and gives a conclusion that's too neat and tidy. Still, with lush cinematography and sound design, a very strong but quiet performance from the lead, The Canal is a rather solid entre for Kavanagh's filmography.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer

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