Set in and around the sewers of Sydney ‘The Tunnel’ follows a group of journalists as they investigate the labyrinth beneath the city.
Borrowing styles from the ‘found footage’ genre, Carlo Ledesma’s film in many ways achieves a consistency and believability that other more Hollywood offerings, such as ‘Chronicle’, have failed to deliver. The fact that the characters are a film crew whose main source of light in the tunnels is the high powered torch mounted on their professional news camera allows you to forget the ‘why are they filming this?’ contradiction that can often take you out of theses sorts of films.
As for the characters they are the typical mixed bunch. The crusading female journalist Nat (Bel Deliá), her producer Pete (Andy Rodoreda, think of an Australian Michael Fassbender), cameraman Steve (Steve Davis) and sound recorder ‘Tangles’ (Luke Arnold) are all given a key part to play both in the narrative and, in the case of the crew members particularly, in the actual documentation of the events.
Starting off as a political news story surrounding an abandoned government project to use the sewers of Sydney as a water recycling plant, the film makes sure to set up a level of realism as conversations are captured on CCTV or used as ways of the crew checking their kit. The opening of the film also allows the characters and their relationships to take shape, and while this would usually involve the characters themselves interacting with each other (in the car on their way to the cabin, or abandoned town or wherever) the film also employs another technique in order to get to know the characters.
Interviews are cut to throughout the story and provide personal accounts from characters as the events unfold (in much the same way as ‘District 9′). While this does allow us further insight into the characters and what they think of each other, discerning viewers may find it spoils the film somewhat as things start to go wrong down in the sewers.
As for the horror aspects they are mostly played brilliantly. While there are no particularly gory images (save one or two) Ledesma cunningly employs the ‘Alien’ philosophy (its not what you see, its what you imagine thats scary) which is used to great effect in the often pitch black setting.
To give away the threat itself would ruin the suspense of a horror film like this but I will say there is one particular reveal that is so damn creepy the image is likely to stay with you for a while.
‘The Tunnel’ definitely a good watch for horror fans, but don’t be put off if this isn’t usually your sort of thing. With a well thought out premise, solid cast (with a particularly good performance from amiable Steve Davis, who is in fact a cameraman ‘giving acting a go’) and genuinely creepy horror, ‘The Tunnel’ is a great example of Australian independent film.