M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Five of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2014 and going through September 30, 2015. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on October 10, 2014. Available On Demand, digital download, and Blu-ray/DVD! Also streaming on Amazon Prime and Shudder!
THE CANAL (2014)
THE CANAL was at the top of my list in 2015 when I originally posted my countdown. I love this film and feel it is full of all kinds of amazing moments of terror and emotional decimation. But while looking back on my list of best films for 2014-2015 (which I feel is the strongest year since 2012 in terms of quality horror released in a single year), THE CANAL was one of the films on my list that I just didn’t feel the need to return to after seeing it, whereas I’ve returned to the rest of the films on this countdown numerous times. I may be way off. Once I do sit down with THE CANAL, I’ll most likely eat my words. That doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a fantastic film. I hold films like THE ORPHANAGE and THE OTHERS as amazing modern ghost stories and THE CANAL is on that short list.
This slow pot-boiler of a film starts out happy enough. HELLBOY’s Rupert Evans plays David, a film restoration specialist married to the beautiful Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) who is a real estate agent. With their young son Billy (played by the adorable Calum Heath), they appear to have the perfect loving family. But when David notices Alice getting a little too close to one of her clients at a party, his suspicions begin to rise. After following her, David discovers Alice is sleeping with one of her clients and overcome by disgust, he throws up and passes out in a public toilet. Upon awakening, David finds his wife missing and soon after, her body is dredged up from a nearby canal. SIGHTSEERS’ Steve Oram plays a police chief who suspects David of the murder, but David knows better as he begins to see ghosts in the shadows and on the periphery. As David’s obsession with finding out what these lurking shadow figures are, all of those around him suspect he is going nuts.
This is a dark, dark film. It goes places most films are just too scared to go. That said, I haven’t been more terrified as I have been with this film in a long, long time. There are scenes that take advantage of light and shadow that are so simple, yet unbelievably effective in sending chills right up and down my spine. Writer/director Ivan Kavanagh knows how to scare and does so with an unflinching tenacity that immediately makes him a major player in horror if he chooses to continue to make horror films (god, I hope he does).
But none of this would be effective if not for the astounding performance by Rupert Evans who shows such a broad range here as a person overcome with grief, fear, suspicion, paranoia, anger, rage, and responsibility for his young son after his wife passes. Evans has always been strong, but here he commands every scene he is in, switching from responsible father to an anxiety-riddled paranoid and back again easily and effectively. Adding to the miss is the adorable and genuinely sweet performance by Calum Heath as David’s son Billy and the scenes become all the more dire and investment-worthy because you want this little angel to be safe.
I had to reveal enough of this film just to get to the point of where I can talk about specific points, so I won’t reveal any more. The film takes its time to let you know it’s a horror film. This is a well acted, superbly paced, terrifyingly realized horror film of the highest caliber. The perfect mix of emotion and terror plays out here as THE CANAL is one film no horror fan should miss.
THE 2014-2015 COUNTDOWN!
#4 – THE CANAL
#5 – THE BABADOOK
#6 – CREEP
#7 – LATE PHASES
#7.5 – WER
#8 – IT FOLLOWS
#9 – SPRING
#10 – EAT
#11 – GOODNIGHT MOMMY
#12 – LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU
#13 – STARRY EYES
#14 – THE BOY
#15 – THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN
#16 – THE HOUSE AT THE END OF TIME
#17 – THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS
#18 – CUB
#19 – POD
#20 – BACKCOUNTRY
#21 – CLOSER TO GOD
#22 – WE ARE STILL HERE
#23 – A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT
#24 – WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD
#25 – THE EDITOR
#26 – DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD
#27 – PARA ELISA
#28 – THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
#29 – FROM THE DARK
#30 – EXISTS
#31 – A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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