The Ghosts In Our Rage: An Analysis of The Ghost in “The Canal (2014)”

I recently did a video where I spoke briefly (and basically spoiled) the movie, “The Canal,” which is available now on Amazon Prime.

Today, we’re discussing the ghost(s) in the movie, and how, though it was obvious to me, the main character, David, played by Rupert Evans (Charmed, 2018) killed his wife.

It was all thanks to the public bathroom scene, the scene after he saw his wife in bed with another man. He picked up a hammer, and, although we don’t see him use it—the next scene is of him throwing the hammer into the canal—I understood in the public bathroom scene what he had done.

The movie wasn’t exactly subtle about it.

He is distraught and stumbles into a graffiti-ed stall to throw up in the blackened toilet. Once he’s done, however, a strange man (whom his son on their way to school mentioned cryptically that there was a ghost in the public toilet and he wanted to see it) appears outside the stall.

We’re left to guess whether or not this man is merely a man, until his dirty fingers appear at the top of the stall. Our protagonist looks on in horror…and then then ghost-man appears in the stall with him and whispers something to him. The audience isn’t privy to the information being passed on, but once the ghost is gone, our hero stumbles out of the bathroom in a horrified/disgusted mess and is disoriented (he can barely stand up right for long). He plops to the floor outside the bathroom and sees, just before he passes out, the image of his wife and the ghost-man arguing in front of the canal.

I’ll give you some preface; the protagonist works in the film industry, analyzing old films on reels. One such reel he gets at some point in the movie, is one from his house where—the ghost man he saw in the bathroom stall had killed his wife.

See where this is going?

Sure you do.

Again, the movie makes no efforts to hide the obviousness of the plot.

Naturally, David descends into madness, jumping and yelling at things around him that no one else can see. He’s doing his best to protect his son (whom is also in the protective care of a young, stay-in babysitter who, unfortunately, is subjected to David’s growing paranoia and fears for the child’s safety).

David can’t see he’s the one that’s acting erratically, an emotional downward spiral that happened ever since he saw his wife fucking that man (who, strangely, everyone else accepts as his boyfriend). A family member even says at his dead wife’s wake that they were seeing each other for a year behind his back and the boyfriend loved her deeply.

It’s all very bizarre, but does nothing, at least to me, to warm me up to David’s plight. We see him acting strangely, but adamantly deny having anything to do with his wife’s death. A cop even says to him during the investigation, “It’s always the husband.” It seems like the director was hard up to let the audience just know that he did do it.

Of course, the big reveal is ofc, that he did do it, and thus his complete sadness that this happened seems a bit contrived when he’s clearly gone a bit mad throughout the course of the movie. He continuously sees the ghost-man, and the ghost-man’s wife, and child in his films, and even behind his own child when he sends both the child and the babysitter to a hotel for the night to hopefully escape the ghost.

Now, all the weird things that happen in his house aren’t his doing—it’s like the ghost is making it seem that way. Everyone else around David believes it’s him, however, as how can he show proof of the ghost?

Speaking of proof, he even gets his coworker (who seems a much better relationship than his former wife, honestly), to see his dead wife in a shot he filmed of the canal they live near.

But its soon revealed that his dead wife didn’t emerge from behind the wall of the home and suck up his coworker—he choked his coworker to death in some sort of maddening fit.

The ghost seems to have taken over his body and mind several times throughout the movie. It’s also revealed that everyone who’s lived in the house has gone mad and has killed their entire family, which makes it seem as though its the house that’s got some bad juju about it and it’s not necessarily the malevolent spirits that remain within it.

Here’s where it gets really obvious that David is driven by rage: It’s revealed to the protagonist, once his wife’s body is found in the canal, that she was pregnant with her lover’s child. While escaping with his son through underground tunnels from the police, he stumbles across a drained, horrifying image of his dead wife, giving birth to his lover’s child. Like—they show her vagina and show the birth.

Me and my fiance were, obviously disturbed because we’d never seen this in a horror movie before. Hm, now that I think about it the ‘canal’ could be both the literal body of water and her birth canal. Huh. Gross.

Moving on, this dead image of his wife begins to saunter toward him, and, clearly unable to deal with what he’s done (that we don’t yet know, but we know, c’mon), he runs away. Mind you, through all of this he’s holding his son who is quiet as all hell for all the madness going on. (Something I couldn’t help but point out. That was one chill kid.)

David escapes the tunnels and either jumps or is dragged into the canal, I can’t remember which, and as he’s pulled down, he pushes his son to the surface.

In the tunnels it’s revealed that he confronted his wife, called her all manner of words reserved for women that do things men don’t desire that I won’t repeat here, and when she said she was leaving him and taking their son with her he snapped and pushed her into the canal. (So it was himself he saw arguing with her while he was pre-pass out in the dirty bathroom).

He goes so far as to hold her head under the water as she’s screaming about her son. He screams something along the lines of ‘him not being taken away,’ and she successfully drowns. After this, its presumed he goes into the bathroom and sleeps his rage-fueled manslaughter away.

So now he’s obviously dead and his son is to stay with his grandmother. The son goes into the house one last time to get his dinosaur (he loves dinosaurs), and when in his room, through a crack in the wall, we see the father’s eye. The father calls the son over, says he loves him very much and wants to be with him forever, with his wife.

The next scene we see, the child goes back to the grandmother, they get in the car and drive off, and during the drive, the son unbuckles his seat belt, and jumps out of the car to his death.

Back at the house, as the realtor is walking down the stairs, she looks up to see the son closing the door to his room. He’s clearly now a ghost and resides in the house, presumably with his ghost family.

So, in conclusion, to not want to see his family separated—though it already was—one man descends into madness, fueled by his rage, kills his wife, kills himself, and from beyond the grave, makes sure his son dies too—all so they can be together. It’s a weird letter to the lengths someone will go, mental gymnastics and all, to see their family together—forever.

Grim, huh?

Monster Rating: 7/10

The Monster: The Ghost-Man, David, and the House?

Have you seen The Canal? What’d you think? Let us know in the comments what you thought!


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