Determined to find the truth behind a government cover up, a news team descends into a network of abandoned underground train tunnels looking for the facts of the story. What they find there in the endless darkness is something unimaginable. Something that is hunting them, one by one. And they're running out of light...
First of all, lets get the history of this films inception out of the way. It seems that THE TUNNEL's actual merit as a work of film, has been overshadowed by its rather excellent back story. The movie was funded independently, by the filmmakers selling frames of the film online in order to finance it. It was then releases simultaneously on a variety of platforms, including DVD, pay per view, and for FREE as a torrent download. I posted an article going into a little more detail about it here. Of course, I'm all for this method of film production. Its original, its risky and its somewhat symbolic of the independent spirit that is the horror genres birthright. And, lest we all forget, it worked. The film has been well received and word of mouth is quickly bringing it to the attention of many. The real problem here is that for a film with such an original conception, the work itself does come across as very derivative.
I'm an unapologetic fan of the found footage sub genre. When its done right, it can make for a very effective film that draws the audience into its world and its situation in a very personal, unique way. When executed poorly, however, it can be an unmitigated disaster. I despised Romero's DIARY OF THE DEAD yet I love THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, REC and even enjoyed CLOVERFIELD. In a film that implores you to take it as factual, you damn well better make it appear authentic. Background music and poor performances will draw you straight out of a film of this type, (see DIARY for more details). But as I said, there are very good examples of horror to be found. And its a fine place for an up and coming director to make his mark on the industry.
|Bel Delia as Natasha|
The main issue the film suffers from is a lack of originality. The basic plot, a group go looking for a story in a secluded location, find themselves lost and fighting for their lives; is pretty much a retread of BLAIR WITCH, and while this film hold its own and is well made, its setup is simply too familiar by now. Any discerning horror fan will have seen almost everything here done before, and often done better, though THE TUNNEL is certainly an above average film of its type, its unfortunately came along a few years too late, and by sticking to the formula so rigidly, it loses some of its power.
The other flaw, although this is a matter of opinion, is the decision to inter cut the footage with interviews from the surviving members of the crew. What this does, of course, is tells us in no uncertain terms who's gonna live and who's gonna die. Its a double edged sword. For some, the tension will come from NOT knowing who's going to bite it. For others, knowing the ultimate fate of the crew builds apprehension as to when the hammer will fall. In this case, I'd much rather have been kept in the dark as to who lives and who dies horribly. The film lost a measure of its tension, for me, due to this.
That THE TUNNEL remains a very suspenseful, and creepy film, despite these errors, is testament to the talent on show. It follows all the beats we're used to, but its made so well that you may find yourself caught in its web regardless of familiarity. The underground tunnel network is a brilliant location, allowing for many very claustrophobic sequences and a feeling of total isolation. Its very easy to imagine getting lost in this place. Also of not are the four central performances. The cast all come off as naturalistic as the script allows, and they really help sell the sense that this really happened. The two 'survivors' also do really well during the interview sections. They manage to convey a greater sense of loss and tragedy than is written in the script. The casting is spot on and the performances are great. We spend a good portion of time with the news team before we head into the dark with them, for some perhaps too long. For me, it was just the right amount of time for me to get a feel for these people. For others, it will be worth the wait, as when the film wastes no time at all hitting them with hell once they're down there in the pitch black. Also of note is James Caitlan in a very small but significant role as Trevor, a homeless person who's lived in the tunnels and knows a few secrets about the place. He's very effective as a tramautised soul, and his one scene is filled with a creeping dread that really ups the horror, and anticipation of whats to come.
|James Caitlan as 'Trev'|
THE TUNNEL can be watched for free, so there's really no reason to miss this one. That its actually a memorable edition to the sub genre doesn't hurt either. Watch this one with the lights down and surround sound if possible. Its got solid scares, a location that nightmares are made, a great cast and a very creepy, mysterious killer. As horror fights for new ideas and concepts, returning to old ones is a given. When they're executed this well, its very hard to complain.
7 Creepy Hobo's out of 10