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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews The Canal

May 9th, 2015 by Conor ONeill Comments

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The Canal (15)
Directed by: Ivan Kavanagh
Starring: Rupert Evans, Antonia Campbell-Hughes & Hannah Hoekstra
Running time: 92 min

A thriller/horror set in Dublin? This I have to see. Writer and director Ivan Kavanagh – The Solution, Tin Can Man, and The fading Light all won awards from Durban to Australia and indeed here in Ireland. With such pedigree behind him, FTN turned up with great expectations on his latest release, The Canal.

Film-archivist David Williams played by Rupert Evans (Royal Shakespeare Company, Hellboy) stumbles across an old pile of screens crimes dating from 1895 – 1905 at his desk. One of the tales has a deep effect as it details the body of a woman in the canal running beside his 19th century tumble-down mansion. A little digging and David finds the murder took place in his house. So begins his descent into a paranoid state where everything and everyone is digging like a fevered termite into his very soul.

With questions regarding his own wife’s fidelity, Alice (Hannah Hoekstra – a Dutch award winning actor in her own right), David soon finds the crime committed against the woman in the canal was carried out by her husband who in parallel also suspects his wife to be an adulteress. And low and behold Alice has been having an affair with one of her husband’s colleagues. There’s no denying the proof as our ever increasing paranoid protagonist walks in on one of their trysts. So far, so good. But from here, the film takes a nose dive. The start was slow, but from the discovery of trust defiled, David spirals into a blur of static enveloped frustrating delusions which leave the viewer confused.

Add the cops’ interest in the disappearance of his wife and David’s increasing confusion, and the remainder of the movie is a convergence of both interest and head-scratching disbelief. With hallucinatory – or are they? – fights with demons in a public loo, one which makes the bog in Trainspotting look like a rest-room of the Beverley Hills’ Hilton, to paranoia that his house is indeed the source of his problems, his descent from respected professional to sheer terror is both compelling yet touching on self-indulgent. The cinematography is well directed, the score generic – the typical finger nails down the blackboard type – the genre has monopolised and the hurried end don’t make for quite as good a movie as it could have been.

Yes it has mood, yes I did jump more than once, and yes to followers of thrillers, I may have missed a nugget.

But, I wouldn’t pay to see this movie and I think when Kavanagh looks back on this in the near future he will realise a great opportunity was missed and mixed. From my notes I wrote down a few words under-lined: suspicion, bloody, confusing and indulgent.

If those four chords rock your world, you may well enjoy this film more than I did.

2 out of 5 Nerds



NB: This trailer is NSFW with violence and sexual images.

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Conor O'Neill is at times a playwright and a qualified journalist. He has worked for the Belfast Telegraph, Portadown Times and South Belfast Advertiser. He also contributes to various online e-zines, specialising in theatre, gig reviews and other cultural events. If you were to ask him what he does, he will say 'I'm functioning'... that's a lie. Best suited to pressure and deadlines, O'Neill thrives on the moment, the passion and the thrill of now, he's only happy when he's watching or reviewing a play.