Director – Carlo Ledesma
Cast – Bel Deliá, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold, Goran D. Kleut
Release Year – 2011
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Despite not receiving very much attention or hype from the horror community, Aussie horror film The Tunnel was one of the few horror flicks this year that I really looked forward to viewing. For starters, I am a sucker for pseudo-documentary horror films in the vein of REC and Paranormal Activity, and was pretty stoked to see how our friends in the Outback would deliver in this popular sub-genre. Filmed independently on a budget of $135,000 and legally released free of charge on torrent sites (not kidding), once again a lowly film finds a good marketing scheme and also manages to provide good horror as well. With an engaging storyline (very reminiscent of another film a decade earlier – more on that later) and good direction from a first-timer, The Tunnel is an enjoyable piece that provides good horror in the POV filmmaking format.
When the Australian government scraps a plan to fix Sydney’s water shortage rumors of a cover-up ensue, leading a news crew to investigate Sydney’s abandoned train tunnels in search of what scared them off.
Why do I love these films so much? The answer is simple: they allow me to envelop myself into the film as if I were there going through the horror with them. This storyline brings many interesting elements to us – a government cover up, an investigative news crew, a creepy location, and some good horror via a violent menace lurking in the tunnels. Told in a documentary-esque format that includes current dialogue from certain members of the news crew, which is a given on who survives and who does not, I found this piece very engaging as I was also very curious to see why the government chickened out of the water project and why the homeless people living in the tunnels were disappearing. The first half of this 90 minute watch consists of development as well as the news crew exploring the underground tunnels, and it is at the 42 minute mark that the horror finally kicks in. The horror is subtle at first, giving us “what you don’t see is scary” tactics that eventually erupt into all our horror when the source of the horror is revealed. What is it exactly? Well, I can’t tell you exactly what it is – all I can say is that it is big, lanky, scary as hell, and has a maniacal thirst for tearing people apart. The rest of the film plays on the news crew running and hiding from the creature in Sydney’s labyrinth of tunnels, many of which are not present on the modern day map they have with them. Writers Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey did a good job pacing this piece, giving us just the right amount of development and engaging antics that kept me interested throughout the entire effort. I was also happy to see positive usage of the characters involved, which mainly consisted of the news crew. They were enjoyable and none of them came off unnecessary or thrown in just to take up space, a writing tactic I hate to see in films. My favorite element regarding our characters is the exposure of our lead, Natasha, as a journalist willing to do whatever it takes to get “the story” and then regretting it when her actions lead her crew to their deaths. I also noticed this tactic in Jon Knautz’s sweet 2011 flick The Shrine, which I adored given I love watching reporters/journalists suffer for their selfish antics.
Earlier I mentioned that this storyline mimicked another one, and that is of 2001 American horror film Mole. Both films follow a camera crew investigating disappearances of the homeless living underground, however I cannot say that this flick was influenced be the one 10 years its senior.
First-time feature film director Carlo Ledesma did a pretty good job with this piece, giving us great atmosphere thanks to incredible locations that provided plenty of creepyness and low-lit areas for the horror to reside in. Our actors deliver positive performances that felt real partly in thanks to the POV style of filming, which I credit for giving us a great full-frontal view of the horror going on as well. The look of the creature was fantastic and Ledesma’s choice to make him tall and lanky was the right move to make instead of making him average or of brute size given tall and skinny creatures are just so much scarier in my opinion (I.e The “judge” in The Gravedancers). His execution of the creature was awesome as well, delivering quick hits and leaving plenty of blood in his path, which along with his mannerisms made for an enjoyable antagonist that I loved watching.
Overall, The Tunnel is a great Aussie horror film in the POV filmmaking style that gives us an engaging storyline adorned with good horror thanks to an awesome creature hacking away at a film crew in way over their heads. Director Carlo Ledesma did a great job executing every element in this film, making for one of the best horror films of 2011 and one that I recommend to those who enjoy the POV / “found footage” sub-genre.