The Tunnel

Year: 2011
Production Co: Distracted Media
Director: Carlo Ledesma
Producer: Enzo Tedeschi
Writer: Enzo Tedeschi
Cast: Bel Deliá, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold, Andy Rodoreda

Another found footage movie? An Australian horror movie? Both genres have run themselves extremely dry over the last ten years, and we're left extremely wanting by films of both types.

Thanks to the inventive distribution method of the producers to not only release it in a few theatrical screenings and VOD at the same time but put it on torrent networks so pirates didn't miss out early, I downloaded it and took almost three months to get around to watching it, expecting very sub-par clag.

Don't make the same mistake. It's an extremely well made, well told and very cool little found footage horror film and stands head and shoulders above most Australian films released at all over the last year, let alone theatrically or otherwise.

The premise is inspired – the government announces a plan to tap into underwater lakes in abandoned trains tunnels beneath Sydney, then quietly abandons the plan, and reporter Natasha (Deliá) wants to cement her place against the big guns of news reporting and make her career by finding out why.

Cameraman Steve (Davis), his sound man Tangles (Arnold) and producer Peter (Rodereda) are none too happy about being assigned to follow her as they were due to go to do a story in China, and will instead find themselves sloshing around in abandoned train tunnels in the dark.

Things look especially grim when Natasha finds a homeless guy in a shelter and they start top interview him about his life in the tunnels. The story they think they've found is that the government found homeless people living down there and abandoned the plan so as not to set themselves up looking bad kicking homeless people out of their only shelter.

But when he freaks out mid-interview and ends up sobbing in a corner at what he's seen, the team know something much worse is up.

They sneak in to the network late one night (having been tricked into thinking they have clearance by Natasha, who is left with no chance but to bribe or cheat her way in) and find themselves far below Sydney with little light and a huge system of caves and rooms that date back a century.

The Tunnel burns slow, the strange happenings decidedly low key and taking their time, then bursting forth with shocking suddenness that blindsides you. Tangles is dragged off into the dark while recording to another room and they find blood splattered all over nearby. In one of the eeriest scenes the group gathers in a room to investigate some paranormal activity or other and put the little monochrome camcorder they're carrying around on the ground. When they look at it later they discover someone's come into the room with them, silently picked it up and filmed them. Someone, or something.

The performances and dialogue are beautifully natural – it's neither an American-style script with Australian accents nor does it go overboard on the 'bewdy cobber' sensibility you see in films that want to consciously set themselves apart.

The one letdown is that the monster is never clearly viewed and barely explained at all, but for the money and resources the filmmaker had, it's a beautifully effective film and everyone involved deserves to go far.

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