DVD Review: The Tunnel / Cert: 15 / Director: Carlo Ledesma / Screenplay: Enzo Tedeschi, Julian Harvey / Starring: Bel Deliá, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis / Release Date: August 6th
The seemingly unstoppable surge of found footage and shaky cam films throws up a surprisingly good variant in this antipodean effort.
The story unfolds, documentary style, as Natasha (Bel Deliá), a reporter, takes it on herself to discover why the Sydney authorities have suddenly pulled the plug on a project to recycle the excess water in Sydney's disused underground wells, thus helping the ongoing drought problems they are experiencing. She is convinced it's because homeless people are living down there, but the MPs all refuse to talk and seem to just want the story to go away.
She takes her film crew, without sanction, down into the dark maze of tunnels in search of proof that people are living there, but ends up discovering a much more horrific story.
It is through a combination of talking heads and the crew's footage we discover the horrors within. The technique of hand held and character POV camcorder filming is far from new, and The Blair Witch Project opened a can of worms that made it a lucrative route for the fiscally challenged film maker. However, The Tunnel has a cinematic quality to it for the most part, a huge testament to director Carlo Ledesma, especially working within the budget restrictions. The pseudo-documentary style works in its favour to draw you in. While other found footage films leave you feeling like you've been spun round in a washing machine for an hour and still expect you to keep watching, The Tunnel mixes the hand held infra red camcorder with the high definition TV camera deftly enough to avoid this. You do, of course, get some running feet shots but thankfully they avoid having snot drip into the lens.
The underground locations lend themselves to creating a wonderful claustrophobic atmosphere, and bring to mind the London Underground as used in Gary Sherman's classic Death Line (1973). Who can honestly say they have not tried to peer into those dark tunnels and wonder what is beyond? There are some well handled scares, which come from the tension which is built up slowly and much more considered, rather than relying on cheap sudden jump shocks.
The film was made as part of the 135k Project, a crowd-funding initiative in which fans can buy individual digital frames from films to fund the costs of production. If the films turn a profit, however, frame purchasers receive a percentage.
A sequel, The Tunnel: Dead End is already being planned.
Special Features: TBC