The Tunnel DVD Review
Directed by Carlo Delesma
Written by Enzo Tedeschi, Julian Harvey
2011, Region 2 (PAL), 90 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 6th August 2012
Bel Delia as Natasha Warner
Andy Rodereda as Peter Fergurson
Steve Davis as Steve Miller
Luke Arnold as Jim 'Tangles' Williams
Goran D. Kleut as Stalker
James Caitlin as Trevor Jones
The Tunnel is a found footage horror movie with a twist – in this case, someone actually bothered to put together and properly edit the documentary they were making in the first place. There's still plenty of room for the subgenre's hallmarks – running around, whimpering in the dark with a snotty nose – but occasionally a talking head pops up too, to tell you how scared they were at the time. Or in the case of cool cameraman Steve Miller, look remarkably chilled out, in spite of it all.
The conceit of The Tunnel is like The Blair Witch Project crossed with The Descent. Investigating what looks like a massive government conspiracy involving missing homeless people, a team of filmmakers head down into the network of abandoned train tunnels which lie deep below the heart of Sydney. There it quickly becomes apparent that the crew are massively out of their depth and most likely about to die very soon. They are attacked by terrifying forces unseen, dragged off into the darkness one by one and given plenty of juicy material for their documentary.
I've made no secret of my disdain for found footage films and the crap clichés which tend to populate them, so it was a nice surprise to find myself actually enjoying The Tunnel. The framing device of the documentary makes all the difference, as does the fact that the film's protagonists are not the same stupid teenagers who tend to appear over and over again in this sort of thing. Head journo Natasha and her colleagues are fairly stupid, but none of them are as downright loathsome as most found footage protagonists tend to be. A few of them even actually manage to be likeable. Most notable is Steve Davis, playing hip prankster cameraman Steve Miller, and his sweet bromance with the team's equally likeable sound guy.
It does tend to spoil some of the tension though, knowing that at least two of the crew-members are going to (probably) survive their ordeal in order to talk about it for the documentary. It's a necessary sacrifice for a technique which mostly works - and the underground action so tense that you might even forget to be that logical all the time. In the words of Kick-Ass himself: “quit being such a smart-ass. You never seen Sin City?” That anyone would turn such harrowing 'real-life' footage into an actual documentary also pushes the boundaries of believability, but no more so than any other film in the subgenre. At least I could console myself with the knowledge that Steve Miller and his nifty blonde highlights would (most likely) survive to see another day.
The Tunnel is far better than your average found footage horror movie. The story is interesting, the characters likeable and the action genuinely unsettling. More documentaries should end with the filmmakers being either dragged off into the darkness or vowing to quit journalism forever. It would certainly make Michael Moore movies a lot easier to watch.
There are many elements of The Tunnel which set it apart from the rest. The most notable being that it's actually a good film.
Video and Audio:
It looks and sounds like a proper documentary. This means that it's purposely bad in places and polished in others.
A wisely cut alternate ending, behind the scenes featurettes and a 'bootcamp' in which the cast take to the streets and pretend to be a real news crew. There's plenty of Steve Davis, who seems as cool in real life as he is in the film.