Reviews & Previews - The Tunnel

Posted on Sunday, October 02, 2011 at 06:00 PM

The Tunnel

Starring:  Bel Delia, Andy Rodereda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold
Director: Carlo Ledesma
Running time: 91 minutes
Rated: 14-A

If Ghost Hunters Were Real

The Tunnel is in independent film from Australia that combines pretty much every single major phobia people have and crafts them into a movie that scares you without using the usual cheap tricks. With a solid cast and a convincing documentary style, the movie resembles The Blair Witch Project at least superficially. Overall though it is a better movie that will have you afraid to turn out the lights for a while.

Set in Sydney, Australia the movie opens with an explanation of plans by the government to recycle large lakes of water trapped in abandoned subway tunnels under the city. For some reason though the government abruptly abandons the plan. Journalist Natasha (Delia) and her crew decide to enter the tunnels to investigate why the plan was scrapped after finding evidence that people might still be living in the tunnels. I am probably not giving anything away by saying that they find a lot more than they bargained for. It reminded me a bit of the show Ghost Hunters, which is a reality show that ironically has worse acting than this movie.

For most people, things like darkness, enclosed places, strange noises and getting lost are among their biggest fears. The Tunnel combines all those fears into one movie to create a frightening experience. I liked that the director let our imaginations fill in the blanks as to what lay beyond the light of the cameras. While there were some shots of the thing or things stalking the crew these are only glimpses or poorly lighted views. There is no grand reveal like in many Hollywood movies and this makes the film even scarier in my opinion as we never really find out what the crew encountered. While shots of gleaming teeth with blood dripping from them are impressive they don't scare me nearly as much as the unknown. 

The movie is crafted in the form of a documentary with interviews of Natasha and her cameraman Steve (Davis) describing the events they encountered with footage from their own cameras and security cameras to fill in the blanks. Much of the film is seen from a first person perspective as we view the images from the cameras. As the crew makes their way through the maze of passages the shots alternate between the night vision of one camera and the harsh lighted glare of the main camera. There are several scenes in the movie where the actors are running in the dark through some passageways that are barely wide enough for one person to fit through. I can imagine that the actual filming of this movie was itself probably a scary experience for the actors.

With a film that is set up like a documentary you need some good actors to help sell the realism and all the main actors here do a good job. It is usually pretty difficult to convey fear without simply resorting to hysterics, but the actors manage to handle that challenge well. Davis and Arnold in particular do a nice job creating a believable chemistry as the camera man/sound man partnership. In one scene Steve (Davis) refuses to leave his friend Tangles (Arnold) behind and we really feel that sense of friendship and dedication.

While the documentary footage from the crew's cameras helps add to the realism, at times it suffers from the same problem as The Blair Witch Project in that we soon realize why most films are shot with tripods and steadi-cams. Watching a camera swing and pan wildly gave me a headache at certain points and I was watching the movie on my tv at home courtesy of a screener the producers provided me. I imagine that on a giant screen this effect is probably magnified. 

Another minor issue I had with the movie was the uneven treatment of the thing in the tunnels. At some points of the film it seemed somewhat superhuman and then in other points the crew was able to fight it off fairly easily. This is something I find troubling in a lot of big budget movies as well. If you are going to establish some parameters for your monster then I think you should adhere to them. Then again maybe they ran into a baby stalker thing or something. The movie also manages to get the female lead down to a tank top which I guess was another concession to more mainstream horror movies.

Even if the genre is not your favourite I think this movie offers enough for even non-horror fans to enjoy it. The film has an exclusive advanced screening at the Globe Cinema in Calgary on October 5th.

3.5 stars out of 5.

S. Tran also writes at, and


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