When we discuss the lesser known found footage horror hits of the 2000’s, we talk about Lake Mungo, Noroi, and The Poughkeepsie Tapes. But Australian crowd-backed venture The Tunnel is still criminally underrated and not often mentioned alongside those unsung contemporary classics. The mockumentary film from Carlo Ledesma is a stunning example of found footage horror, flaunting a perfectly orchestrated atmosphere and frankly some irritatingly effective jump scares.
When the Australian government suddenly abandons plans to utilise water from a lake located in a disused underground train station, Natasha Warner smells a rat. Desperate to rescue her reputation as an investigative reporter, she leads a small crew down into the tunnels to find out why the government ditched its plans, and why it seems so desperate to cover up whatever is going on.
After a first act which explores the relationships between the crew, The Tunnel steps into gear, taking us deep underground. The deeper the crew go, the more isolated they are, and the more dangerous this all feels. At a certain depth, the only light sources are those brought with them and the only sounds are the ones made by the crew and whatever is down there with them. Ledesma is wise to hold his cards close to his chest because when The Tunnel finally kicks off, and it does so with a stark bold scare, the film doesn’t let up. We go from quietly waiting for something to happen, to silently praying no more will happen. Tension drips from every minute after the threat’s introduction.
Some criticism could be levelled at the lack of development for the film’s boogeyman but, to be honest, The Blair Witch Project got away with way worse. All we need to know is what the characters know. All we need to see is what they see. From its introduction onwards, The Stalker is a terrifying malevolence, fast, unnaturally omnipresent, and above all deadly. We see little of it except brief glimpses. There’s never a full clear image and that’s one of the great things about The Tunnel. It doesn’t give us any answers. It’s a pure terror train which positions us on the edge of seats and holds us there for a solid 40 minutes.
The Tunnel is an unsung gem in the annals of found footage. Its mix of gorgeous underground filming, mixed with shaky cam and insinuated threat is just so perfectly potent it deserves a focused viewing in dark quiet room. A contemporary Australian classic and a damn good horror film, simplistic, but totally effective.
Dir. Carlo Ledesma
Stars. Bel Delia, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold,