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DVD, Movie Review, Podcast

Review: The Tunnel [Dir: Carlo Ledesma – 2011]

It’s “found footage” time again.

Whilst many of you out there might be sick to death of this sub genre by now, I for one am not. I’ve always had a soft spot for a good faux documentary or films that present them selves as unearthed footage.

The Tunnel presents itself as a bit of both, starting as a documentary and slowly introducing more and more footage, reminiscent of The Last Broadcast.

The basic story looks back at a government plan to use abandoned underground tunnels to combat a water shortage problem. Many protested against the plan, claiming quite rightly that it would take away shelter for the many homeless citizens who live in the tunnels. Eventually the plan and resulting controversy went quiet, suspiciously quiet. Stories arose of people going missing and an eerie you tube video popped up showing a young graffiti artist vanishing down there.

Current affairs reporter Natasha (Bel Delia) along with her crew, decide to investigate the sudden cancellation of the plans and head on down to the abandoned tunnels to see what’s down there.

And of course, this is where the film really gets in to gear. Starting off like The Blair Witch Project, we have raw footage of the crew filming at various parts around the tunnels as Natasha delivers the odd piece to camera, but eventually one of the team goes missing and they realise that there is someone or something down there that is out to get them.

I really enjoyed The Tunnel. After it’s initial set up during the opening 30 minutes, it keeps the tension and the action running high and when it comes to the final 15 minutes, it never really gives you a chance to catch your breath.

The plot and general concept is almost like a combination of the brilliant [REC] and the London underground shocker Creep, mixed with the presentation of a feature length documentary. But there are some problems with the documentary format; for starters an opening piece of text informs us that certain people involved with the events declined to be interviewed…Straight away this had me thinking that this was a red-herring concerning which characters will make it out in one piece. And please don’t think that this is a major spoiler, because two of the main characters in the film are interviewed throughout, so you know instantly that these two will survive, which sort of reduces the tension factor when they are put in life threatening situations later on. It’s a bit of a catch 22 for the film makers really, either go for the typical route of constant “found footage” ala Blair Witch, or go the route that not many films in this genre take, the faux-documentary way, and give away some of the suspense.

That’s not to say that the documentary style doesn’t work, because it does. It’s very well put together and most importantly it does feel real, unlike something like The Poughkeepsie Tapes where some slightly duff over-acting would constantly remind you that you’re watching fiction. I know we all know what we’re seeing isn’t real, but why ruin the illusion? Thankfully, The Tunnel does not.

So, minor quibbles (such as a documentary/news crew shooting in 2:35.1) and problems aside, I can highly recommend it. It certainly wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve (the night vision sequences will almost certainly remind you of [REC] in more ways than one) and although it doesn’t really bring anything fresh, it kept me entertained and made my skin crawl and my arse jump out of my seat a few times.

Another thing worth mentioning was the highly original way the film was distributed and funded. The team behind the film raised the money online, with fans interested in the project purchasing a frame of the movie for a dollar until they reached their desired budget ($135‘000) and then they released the movie online. For free.

So, go to www.thetunnelmovie.net and check it out.

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If you’re after some more “Hand held horror”/”Found footage” discussion, why not check out this old special from The Revolving Video PodcastCLICK HERE

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