It might just be me, but it sure seems like there's been an outbreak of horror centered on parents in perilous situations. The teens who survived the forest slashers of the 80s have grown up. Now they must survive dinner parties and child behavior problems and adultery. It may be an indication of the aging target audience (and horror films 20-30 years from now should be fascinating/hilarious), but as long as the films are good, who cares? The Canal isn't a classic and resides in one of my least-loved horror subgenres, but viewers who like thrillers and slow-burn storytelling should get a kick out of it.
Rupert Evans excels as David, a film archivist who's insecure about his wife's job and dalliances with the upper crust. They move into a house with a rich history of murder and bad things start happening. It's almost impossible to give a synopsis of the film without spoiling it, but think a less intense, Irish/Welsh Babadook and you'll be near the truth.
I loved how much consideration was taken in setting up the visuals. The film looks fantastic—scenes are framed and shot with exacting care, and portions of The Canal play like nods to vintage Argento or the more comic book-y parts of Creepshow. Blues and reds and greens swarm the screen. The editing's often a highlight as well.
Again, hard to avoid spoiling this, but the final resolution plays out in a way that annoys me personally, though it might be acceptable to other folks. I was able to predict the ending at the 43-minute mark, if that tells you anything. Maybe these films really are the inheritors of slashers past and require you to turn off the critical part of your brain while watching? Still, I don't regret watching this and will keep an eye out for the director's future efforts.