If you’ve been paying any attention to the festival rounds or the independent horror circles, you’ve definitely heard of today’s pick, hailing from Ireland. The Canal is one of those movies that has been the subject of a lot of horror talk in 2014. And I’m here to say that it’s for good reason. After you see this film, it sticks with you. You will think about it. You will want to talk about it. It just unnerves you in a way that most films try for and never attain. The Canal earns a lot of love from me because it doesn’t fall into the “jump scare” school of lazy horror. Its methodical slower pace earns all its scares, by building an atmosphere of dread, a chilling mystery, and truly slick directing and editing. There are glimmers of other films in here for sure – The Ring, The Grudge, Sinister, to name a few. But overall, The Canal is uniquely its own. It’s actually a simple premise. A husband discovers his wife is having an affair, and that same night he sees her with her lover, she is found dead. While the police suspects him as the killer, he begins to suspect a ghostly presence is to blame. In one of the more interesting twists in the story, the husband, who is a film archivist, comes in contact with an old reel from 1902 that shows a brutal killing in his same house. He’s convinced it’s the same man that killed his wife, and he sets himself on the mystery of proving a ghost is the murderer. Much like a movie I wrote about a few weeks ago, Lovely Molly, there is a nice ambiguity to much of the film where you truly question our main character’s decomposing psyche and mental state. Whenever the audience takes the same journey as the fragmented soul, it’s usually going to be a fun ride. Especially when you’re in the hands of a really great director. And that’s where a lot of the kudos should be given. The writer and director, Ivan Kavanagh, knows what he’s doing here. Even small nuances like the jump cuts during scenes help add to a feeling of uneasiness. It’s slick, stylish, and shot with masterful eye for detail. And let me just tell you, the slower pace builds to one of the most disturbing climaxes I’ve seen in a while. There are a few scenes in the end that will stick with you like glue, long after the credits. Trust me, if you’re looking for something smart and scary, skip the cheaper jump scare stuff, and check out The Canal. You won’t be sorry.