The Tunnel (2012)

It’s been years since any found footage movies have taken the world of celluloid by storm so colour me excited when I heard about Aussie mockumentary The Tunnel. Oh wait, no, the opposite of that.

Despite my trepidation at the prospect of another familiar re-tread of the same old shaky cam/night vision ground, The Tunnel managed to win me over. Maybe it’s that I have a fondness for Australian horror movies, maybe it’s that it reminded me so much of [REC] which I adored, or maybe it’s that, despite it not offering much in the way of new ideas or freshness, it was still able to suck me in and scare the pants off me.

Natasha is a reckless, career hungry journalist who will stop at nothing, even putting her colleagues in potential danger, to get her story. She believes that there are a number of homeless people living in the tunnels below Sydney but the government says otherwise. In an attempt to uncover the truth, against the orders of her superiors, she and her crew go searching for evidence and things soon go very, very wrong.

When one of their number hears strange noises over the headphones he breaks that cardinal horror movie rule and goes into a separate room alone to figure out the problem. Disappearing soon after, his colleagues are left to look for him in a pitch black concrete maze. With their battery operated lights running out fast and the knowledge that no-one knows their whereabouts, their panic steadily increases and they slowly realise they might not be alone.

Starring a cast of unknowns (in the UK, at least) and filmed in a faux documentary style, The Tunnel looks and feels very familiar. This is largely because everything here has been done before. What it lacks in originality though, it more than makes up for with convincing performances and genuine tension. The main protagonist is a loathsome character but, for me at least, this didn’t detract from the plight of the TV crew and I felt myself getting concerned for their welfare as the potential threat level increased.

The faux documantary angle works wonderfully and seems to be down to sheer commitment on the filmmakers part. They never waver from their vision and, although the lengthy preamble involving news reports of Sydney’s water shortage to set up the story seem to go on longer than necessary, the realism with regard to the interviews is fantastic and solid all the way through.

The Tunnel‘s real strength though, lies in the fact that it subscribes to that old adage; less is more. In this case, that couldn’t be more accurate. The makers have taken a small budget and stretched it as far as they could. Where a lot of movies go wrong is in showing too much or showing it too soon. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark and Creep being two obvious examples that spring to mind. Regardless of budget, the key to a good scare is to know your limits and director Carlo Ledesma certainly does. Night vision is utilised to great effect, some of the more tense scenes are shot in very low light (it is an underground tunnel after all) and there’s a glorious lack of CGI, which I’m sure will please the hardcore horror fans and make up for the lack of gore on show.

Taking a paper thin concept but adding heavy doses of [REC] and The Descent, some believable performances and a superbly palpable tension, Ledesma has crafted a worthy addition to the found footage sub-genre. It won’t leave you hoping for a sequel, it probably won’t make you think long after the credits roll but it will almost certainly entertain you for the duration of its very reasonable 90 minute running time. Best watched with the lights out for full pant-wetting effect!

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.