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TUNNEL, THE

SYNOPSIS:
In 2007 the New South Wales government suddenly scraps a plan to utilise the water in the disused underground train tunnels built in 1920s beneath Sydney's St James Train Station. Chasing rumours of a government cover-up and urban legends surrounding the sudden backflip, young investigative TV journalist Natasha Warner (Bel Delia) heads into the underground labyrinth with cameraman Steve (Steve Davis), soundie Tangles (Luke Arnold) and fellow journalist Pete (Andy Rodorea). They go looking for just what story is there hidden in the claustrophobic subway tunnels and find much more than they bargained for, as the survivors reveal in a series of candid interviews.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Filmmakers Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey have clearly taken to heart the techniques of scare-meister Alfred Hitchcock and let the audience do the horror work for them in this audacious debut. It's not what you see - it's what you imagine that scares us in The Tunnel.

Financed online and targeting the online-dwelling youth market, the film was even launched online in a cheeky move, giving away free viewings on bit torrent sites. To simulate that experience, I too, watched it on my computer screen and can report that the film is an effective entry in the horror genre.

Using the mockumentary format, the film intercuts interview footage shot of the survivors of the escapade with the 'found' footage shot in the dark, menacing tunnels by the two cameras the film crew carry. To that extent it is very much a holistic vision of Tedeschi and Harvey, who edited the film, with a strong sense of what works on screen, given that so much of the footage is shuddering, underlit and suggestive rather than explicit.

The film's tension is beautifully built from the beginning where the background to the story is quickly established in an unnamed TV station, and includes some interpersonal material that adds texture to the screenplay.

The most accomplished aspect of the writing is the film's carefully nurtured sense of dread, built shot by shot. But the performances are also excellent, a solid ensemble piece which uses both the veracity of TV crew interactions and personality elements. Philippines born director Carlo Ledesma handles the problems of handheld cameras being his only tools (and only lightsource - a key point in the plot) with the same sensibility as his writer/producers handle the film's overall style.

It may be tempting to compare it to 'found' footage films such as Paranormal Activity or the earlier, groundbreaking The Blair Witch Project, The Tunnel is more sophisticated and better conceived than both. It has an unnerving and chilling veracity that makes us want to double check that this story really is fiction. Otherwise I'm leaving Sydney ...

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FEATURE

TUNNEL, THE (MA15+)
(Aust, 2011)

CAST: Bel Delia, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold, Goran D. Kleut, James Caitlin

PRODUCER: Enzo Tedeschi, Julian Harvey

DIRECTOR: Carlo Ledesma

SCRIPT: Enzo Tedeschi, Julian Harvey

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Shing Fung Cheung, Steve Davis

EDITOR: Enzo Tedeschi, Julian Harvey

MUSIC: Paul Dawkins (also Motion Fused, The Blackwater Fever, Split Dogs)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kate Newton

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount/Transmission

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Online May 19, 2011 on DVD and also free at bittorrent.com; June 8, 2011, Sydney (at Hoyts EQ four weeks only)

PRESENTATION: 2.35:1; DD 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Director/producer audio commentary; alternate ending; behind the scenes x 70 mins; 10 featurettes 24 mins; TV news crew x 4 mins; 2 short films, 3 music videos

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures

DVD RELEASE: May 19, 2011







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