The Tunnel (2011) – By Baron Craze


Director Carlo Ledesma uses natural devices, creating a novel path of in found footage films, interviews narratives for his low-budget Australian indie horror feature the mockumentary format, and available free viewings on YouTube. In the Australian cinema, always welcoming generalized horror movies providing refreshing tones from the commonly associated films of the ozploitation sub-genre. The movie spends time discovering if anything or anyone lurks in the underground maze of real tunnels (known as the St. James Station Tunnels) beneath Sydney, Australia. Although, in sub-genre of found footage, this movie presents a thrill ride, with less emphasis on horror, allowing the location to speak volumes with limited light, creepy echoing sounds and strange natural aspects, which really exists.

Screenwriters Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey present a refreshing take on the found footage market, with an investigation into a government cover-up to the abandoning of high moral project to recover rainwater trapped in the tunnels under Sydney. First, what really works for the movie is that the location, extremely real, graffiti from occult activities and the reason for it the presence completely factual. The movie, uses facts with a desperate journalist Natasha (Bel Delia) and tiny film her crew hunting for the truth, such why the tunnels exists, built during the war to shelter the citizens, from possible bombing raids, and in fact also revealed after the war soldiers tried by failing to collapse and destroy them. One of the coolest items showed, the “St. James Lake”, a tad over 1,000 yards long (10 football fields) and 5 yards deep in some places, with all sorts of things living and surviving in the water. In the beginning the general asking of questions to government officials for the reasons, starts to feel a bit like X-Files, with no one acknowledging the issue, but constant disappearances of the homeless rises. In the early stages of the investigation, the script provides sound footing to like the crew, cameraman Steve (Steve Davis), sound fellow Jim (Luke Arnold) and fellow journalist Pete (Andy Rodorea). Though a bit of known reality seeps in, no one cares about them the uncounted and unwashed a burden to many, best society forgets. The team’s entry goes through treacherous and illegal manner, to gain access, all under false documentation, and while everything remains fine to the air raid room, it quickly unravels into thrilling unnatural hunting story of demonic portions. The beast chasing them barely shows itself, rather a towering outline figure with the glowing eyes, growing sounds, and blinding speeds movements. While the movie presents some great scenes and an equal amount of foolish moments arise thanks to “randomly” placed cameras on the ground, always shooting the important thing or running and screaming and still shooting the right direction and things like these, ruin the concept of found-footage flicks. Sadly, the filmmakers toss aside all the suspense from the vast underground tunnel system of darkness swallowing their limited light sources providing a stranglehold of natural claustrophobia, for the endless chase scenes.

In recent years, the found footage sub-genre market may find itself easing in the endless creations since the massive success of The Blair Witch Project (1999) truly established the genre and theme. This one movie generated sequels, rip-offs, and even porn parodies, while birthing countless others most notable the Paranormal Activity franchise. This sub-genre might have one plus, likely not going to reboots or remakes of found footage films, however variations will continue to dot the landscape all with the same flaws, perfect footage and cast appears in other movies. For the horror fans, enjoy seeing horror films in tunnels under the city, one need to recall C.H.U.D. (1984) or twenty years later Creep (2004).

Tedeschi worked to achieve financing through crowd-funded endeavors and then creativity to finish the film, with suspense and generating fear, with the minimum effects, providing a tad loose screenplay allowing for ad libbing scenes when appropriate. The downside for many aside for the ending, the intercuts of interviews with characters, and hence slowing the pace and destroying atmosphere only to try to recreate it once more with audience in tow. The tunnels in the movie were once open to the public for tours but that endeavor ended, and now only wildly adventurous trespassers attempt the journey. It is fair to mention The Tunnel is not the only movie to have said to use the locations, television shows, music videos and both The Matrix Revolutions (2003) and The Diplomat (2009); noting Ledesma’s film as the last one known to film there.

The main problem with The Tunnel as it suffers from a very slow build up, and 40-minutes into the movie before descending into the actual tunnels, once there, the excitement accelerates nicely. Recently announced a sequel is in development with Ledesma returning to explore more unseen sinister horrors, Tangles disappearance.