*Welcome to our series simply called “NETFLIX Navigator”. Here we will discuss the films we find on Netflix in 2 parts. First, whether or not you should watch it if you haven’t seen it, and second, a discussion of it’s plot, flow, acting and more. Please if you engage with us in the comments remember to call out spoilers. Thanks for joining!
The Canal Director: Ivan Kavanagh Starring: Rupert Evans, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Hannah Hoekstra
Should I watch this film? (Spoiler Free Zone)
Last night Maddie and I stumbled on to a film I had never heard about called “The Canal”, starring no one I have ever heard of before and directed by no one I know of. The description sounded interesting enough, and quite frankly the run time was short enough at an hour and a half (this was a weeknight now), for us to give it a shot. I’m sort of sad I did, but not for the reasons you probably think. I’d actually recommend watching this film, but I want to prepare you first. This horror mystery, filmed in Dublin, Ireland, made me physically upset several times. It’s a film that slowly plays on some of your biggest fears about the ones you love and the life you’ve made. It’s a ghost story but it doesn’t even need to be. In fact you could maybe even argue it isn’t, but we’ll discuss that below. For you my dear potential viewer, I’ll just say that this is a film that purposefully stays unclear about what it is until the very end.
The question then becomes, is the ending any good? Is the hour and a half of physical discomfort and fear worth it? I honestly am not sure. I wasn’t in love with the ending but I did continue to think about it all day today at work. I couldn’t really shake the feeling of discomfort over the whole thing. I think I can safely attribute that to the acting. Everyone from the young son to the live-in nanny play their parts beautifully. Acting hopeful, loving, concerned, confused and afraid all at the same time is not easy and this cast pulls it off. Plus dammit if that kid isn’t adorable. Honestly he will melt your heart.
It should be noted though that this is a horror, so you better also expect some gross out moments. There’s one in particular that I kind of held my stomach in pain for, but hey, I think that’s a plus. If a scene can give me a visceral reaction like that, the director and the make up artists did well. They created at least real feeling.
In terms of the mystery/drama side of the film it did kind of remind me of a soap opera at times. A little over the top, and yes, every character in the film makes really, really dumb decisions; that frustrates me a bit. Ultimately it’s also a little slow and doesn’t always pay off in all the ways I wanted it to. But if we’re looking for positives it did make me uncomfortable and uneasy like a good horror film should and it doesn’t rely on cheap scare gimmicks to do it. The actors sold me on a lot of their love and pain and I like that.
If you’ve already seen it, let’s discuss! (Spoilers Ahead)
About that ending… Let’s break it down. We see glimpses of the main character killing his wife and his co-worker despite seeing something very different earlier in the film, and oh yeah, the ghosts are noticeably absent. There are really two different ways to take this. Either only he could see the ghosts and they are real and were manipulating him to do these horrible things while framing him as a crazed killer, or maybe he really just did go crazy because his wife was cheating on him and the ghosts were his way of dealing with it. In this scenario they were never really there at all. Honestly doesn’t that feel a little bit scarier? That was what made me so messed up all day long, that this film used ghosts in a different way, as the main characters actual inner demons and his coping mechanism.
HOWEVER, the film starts out when they buy the house and he sees a ghostly figure walk past him. This is during a time when he seems truly happy. It doesn’t seem like there’s any reason for him to see his figurative ghosts. Unless while waiting for her to walk through the house he’s so anxious it becomes a trigger for his delusion, but that seems unlikely right? He isn’t angry about waiting for her to decide if she likes the house. If the ghosts are truly just inside of him it seems unlikely he saw them during an anxious moment 5 years before, never got anxious or angry again until he sees her cheating on him, and then they come back. For this reason I thought the film was unsure of itself and unsure of how to present this character. I’m sure you could argue it’s done on purpose and that’s what makes it so interesting but ultimately without that beginning scene it would be much more fun to debate. Really this is just another typical ghost movie where the ghost causes the family to fall apart and the man to kill everyone. I think they missed a great opportunity to do something special here. What do you think? Am I missing something?