Starring:Bel Deliá, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold

Director: Carlo Ledesma

A journalist and her team descend into the labyrinth of abandoned tunnels underneath Sydney to investigate a series of disappearances and discover why a planned government project which would have used the tunnels was called off. Deep into their journey, with light sources running out, the group discover that something is hunting them.

Forget 3D. Could this be the future of movie-making? The Tunnel was financed using a crowd-funded scheme, the 135k project, with people offered the chance to purchase a frame of the movie for AUD$1. Everyone who purchases a frame, and either helped finance the movie or help it now make a profit, has their name woven into the movie poster (click on the poster to see it in more detail). But the truly revolutionary aspect of The Tunnel is the manner of its release. Rather than try to combat the peer-to-peer networks and illegal downloading industry, The Tunnel has embraced them with a simultaneous release through DVD, TV and peer-to-peer. Just as some recording artists have released albums and asked the consumer to pay what they will, so now finally a group of movie-makers have woken up to the potential of the internet’s new avenues. It is a risky, but admirable and brave move onto new ground, and I’ve already purchased my frame (waiting to see if my name appears on the poster).

So, to the movie itself. The tried and tested formula for many low-budget horror movies these days is the ‘found footage’ approach. The rise of the digital camera has made these types of movies more prevalent and, of course, more practical in that they require far less in the way of crew and budget. They also remain the most effective in delivering the shocks and atmosphere that make a great horror movie. The Tunnel, however, presents itself as a straight documentary, mixing footage shot during the incident with interviews given by some of the characters in the aftermath.

Making superb use of the remarkable, disused tunnels beneath the Australian capital, The Tunnel takes its time to set the scene and characters before they embark on their investigation. Natasha (Bel Deliá) is the driven journalist who stumbles on the story and decides, fatally, to lead the four-strong team down into the dark without telling anyone else they are going. Deliá is engaging as the flawed, ambitious journo, struggling to keep it together as she and her male colleagues realise that there is more to the subterranean maze than they bargained for. Wisely, whatever it is that lurks down there is glimpsed rarely but suggested often, leaving the imagination to play its tricks. It is an effective approach for the most part, and while there is an excellent atmosphere, the occasional chill and a few scares, you are left wishing that the horror had been amped up slightly more.

Where The Tunnel suffers the most is in its decision to include the after-the-event interviews. For while they lend proceedings an agreeable authenticity, they interrupt the action somewhat and, of course, give away from the outset who is going to make it out and who isn’t. This inevitably reduces the tension, which is a shame because the solid performances, perfect location and half-glimpsed creature add up to something worthy of more focus. These things aside, however, The Tunnel is a well-acted, well-crafted horror movie which deserves to be successful not only on its merits as an original and subversive film-making project, but also simply as a film in and of itself.

If you want to download The Tunnel, or buy your own little piece of the movie and support the efforts of the film-makers, then go to the official website here for details.

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