Director: Carlo Ledesma
Starring: Bel Deliá, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis
Review Author: Tony
Synopsis: Looking for a new scoop, an Australian film crew descends into the Sydney underground tunnels to do an expose on an abandoned water treatment project and the disappearance of homeless who have taken refuge there. Stonewalled by every political figure attached to the development plan, the crew is intrigued by the hush hush shutdown of the project. After embarking into the long abandoned dark corridors of Sydney’s underground, they find that the source of the disappearing homeless is far more horrifying than they could have imagined.
With a total budget of $135,000 Australian dollars, the film was financed through crowd funded finance model organised by the filmmakers themselves. Writer/Producers Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey sold each of the films individual frames at A$1 a piece to compose the films 135,000 frames caught on film. The fundraiser was a success, and they released their film for free through the upload and download software portal BitTorrent for free, which garnered huge attention upon release. This coincided with a strong theatrical release in Australia.
Years ago I lamented the lack of found footage films in the horror genre, a complaint that was quickly dispelled by a resurgence, and then overstretching of the genre in the mid-2000s. For a subgenre I saw such potential in, the overabundance of poorly executed films over the years soured this interest and turned it to disdain. Much has to do with the overfamiliarity, the narratives and lack of believability as to why the camera remains rolling. Throw in a dash of motion sickness and shit CGI, and you can guess why found footage has seen less interest in the last few years. The Tunnel is a rare example of the genre done right.
Shot in a mockumentary style that sets itself aside with post interview segments, The Tunnel frames itself with a believable premise and social backdrop. The interview scenes with the crew might break immersion in terms of who survives or whether the film can truly be called found footage, but for me these were the highlights of the film allowing the characters to react to the horror the experienced and try rationalize their actions. A disclaimer from the beginning that not all parties gave consent for the interviews is a clever way of disguising whether any fatalities occur through the proceedings. The mockumentary style gives the film both weight and legitimacy not seen in its genre contemporaries.
Similar to The Blair Witch Project, the film is sold on a small but believable cast of characters reacting to a terrifying encounter. Perhaps it’s the Aussie accents, but the friendship and friction of the group is sold extremely well; also listening to Australians swearing and shouting will never not be amusing. The pre-descent interviews and footage give a brief introduction to the characters and their relationships, which effectively defines their interactions and reactions throughout, especially when acting out on impulse or self interest. While conflict appears ready to explode, it’s the moments where the group comes together that give the film heart.
The horror angle is handled really well, both keeping the viewer and victims literally in the dark but also sharing nuggets of info and exposition that keep their stalker terrifying but also shrouded in mystery. The poker face approach to revealing the monster and its origins will certainly polarize viewers, but I was certainly on the side of less is more and the little I know about this creature is what scares me the most. There’s a few jump scare moments that seem to utilize some naff CGI, but the film’s unnerving atmosphere easily offset this with some truly terrifying set pieces which display the sadistic intent of this hidden stalker.
While the concept and story may appear simplistic at a glancing view, this film’s crowd funding background and solid execution elevate this to a real hidden gem, a phrase used way to amply amongst horror circles but one I feel justified in exclaiming here. The cast is solid despite their lack of experience; the location is haunting, and the horror really gets under your skin despite a few cheap scare moments. Luckily you can find the film in its entireity on both YouTube and Dailymotion if you feel inclined to check it out and also refrain from ever walking into a dark corridor again.
Bottles of Victoria Bitter