The Canal and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night are currently available on instant Netflix.
The Canal (2014) – Not Rated
“A film archivist sees footage revealing that his happy home was once the scene of a gruesome murder, which casts evil shadows upon his present life.”
How many different ways can you tell the same old haunted house story about a man who kills his family influencing the present? Yes, this story is tired and was tired at the turn of the century. Still writer and director Ivan Kavanagh is able to inject some new life into the proceedings.
By having David be a film archivist, we are actually given a reason why he would find out about the past as opposed to the finding of a tell-all diary behind the walls or some left behind videotapes.
Acting is pretty decent across the board. Rupert Evans shoulders the brunt of the work as our archivist, David, whose life is not-so-slowly unraveling. Child actors seem to come in two types, likable and annoying. Thankfully, Calum Heath is a likable young lad as David’s son, Billy.
Kavanagh keeps events moving at a fast pace. An event that I would expect the film to build towards a climax of actually occurs fairly early in the movie. The brisk pace prohibits boredom in the proceedings and Kavanagh fills the edges of the frame constantly with the apparitions, much more so than the Paranormal Activity movies.
The script is filled with ambiguity to keep you guessing (unfairly so in some parts). The denouement however is a real corker and, while jarring tonally, was a bit of fresh air.
Ignore the box art for The Canal which makes it look like a monster movie. This movie is a decent haunted house story that is briskly paced and at an hour and a half does not overstay its welcome.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) – Not rated
“Bad things are commonplace in Bad City, including prostitution, drugs and crime, and most recently a sequence of attacks by a vampire on the loose.”
Nothing screams independent movie quite like a film in black and white with subtitles about a vampire wearing a burka and riding a skateboard with California subbing for Bad City, Iran. Heck even the title won’t fit on a standard marquee. The fact that this film du quirk got a theatrical release should clue you in that there’s more here than my description.
This is writer/producer/director Ana Lily Amirpour’s first feature-length film. She also appears briefly as Skeleton Party Girl. She has good artistic sensibilities though there are way too many shots of oil pumps. The Ennio Morricone-like score is intriguing.
The movie is quite good but the audience is quite rare. If black and white cinematography puts you off, skip this. If you cannot stand subtitles, this is not for you. If artsy films rub you the wrong way, this movie will frustrate you. If you have no patience for the supernatural, this won’t work. If Islamic films upset your patriotic nature, this will rankle. If a film that shows men in a very negative, albeit realistic, light wounds your male privilege, well you get the picture.
Other than that, you should give this a try. A Girl Walks Home is full of style and below the surface, quite a bit of substance. There are beautifully artistic shots and quite a few lingering glances.
Ana Lily Amirpour has been greenlit for Hollywood money now. Her next movie, The Bad Batch, will star Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, and Diego Luna. The description (I kid you not) is “A dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland and set in a community of cannibals.”. I look forward to it.