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The Canal

Irishman Ivan Kavanaugh’s conventional horror flick is heavy on blinking lights, implied hallucinations and shadowy bogeymen, but fails to handle any one ingredient deftly enough to give his scary whole a quantum of awe. David Williams (Rupert Evans) is a movie archivist who lives with gorgeous wife Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) and their dinosaur-loving five-year-old Billy. One day David stumbles on 1902 newsreel footage of jealous husband bludgeoning his cheating wife and nanny to death in a canal-side home — a relevant detail since David and Alice happen to live in the same house with Billy. So when the romantically distracted Alice goes missing and rumors of adultery percolate, simmering, suspicious David suddenly seems in league with the wife-stabbing newsreel man of the previous century. Why, a detective asks David, do people always suspect the husband when a wife disappears? You know what’s coming — “Because it’s always the husband.”

But David remains unsure of what to make of the repulsion unfolding around him, unhinged by visions from 1902 and by visiting shadows that will eventually lead him (uh-oh) into storm-drains. He starts burrowing into long-ago murder legacies. Haunted house paranoia grows accordingly — all of which turns out to a self-fulfilling RSVP to body-snatching ghouls with a history of human sacrifices. Beware demons behind the walls, even if mommy and daddy beckon. The end.