The Canal ***Dir: Ivan Kavanagh. With: Rupert Evans, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Hannah Hoekstra, Steve Oram. 92 mins. Cert: 15
There’s a fair bit floating around in this smart, slowburn creepout, which for a long while withholds the exact nature of the demons circling its central character: a film archivist (Rupert Evans, nicely rattled) haunted both by suspicions his wife is having an affair, and that their new canalside residence may have been the site of a bloody murder a century before. Traces of Europudding persist in its mishmash of accents (Dutch, Irish, Steve Oram as a slovenly Brummie detective), but writer-director Ivan Kavanagh and cinematographer Piers McGrail fashion something properly cinematic from their watery, nondescript locations: an overcast, portal-like towpath, a dilapidated public loo that provides an unusual and effective locus of fear. If it can’t quite match the full-pulp heft of its influences (2012’s Sinister, Hideo Nakata’s J-horrors), it does something not dissimilar with its protagonist’s mounting obsession, and has a genuinely unsettling manner of undercutting his – and our – certainties.
The Canal opens in selected cinemas from today.