The Tunnel

Dir: Carlo Ledesma
Star: Bel Delia, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold

Say what you like about The Blair Witch Project, it certainly proved influential. More than a decade later, we are still getting films like this, offering variations on the same, pseudo-documentary, found-footage theme. In this case, it's a film crew, whose interest is piqued by a government plan to pump water out of the underground tunnels beneath Sydney, a project that suddenly got spiked without explanation. Stonewalled at every turn, and increasingly convinced something is going on down there, journalist Natasha Warner (Delia), cameraman Steve Miller (Davis), producer Peter Ferguson (Rodoreda) and sound recordist 'Tangles' Williams (Arnold) mount a guerilla reporting expedition, breaking in through a maintenance entrance to explore the vast system, much of which has been officially abandoned since the end of World War II. However - and, I trust this isn't spoiling it for anyone - it is not as deserted as it appears, and the disappearance of Williams kicks off an increasingly-harrowing series of events, as the remainder of the crew first seek their missing colleague, then try to escape themselves from the subterranean maze.

This is most successful, and certainly most interesting, when it isn't going down the overly-familiar road of hand-held cameras, being clutched by people well past the point at which any sensible person would have given up filming. If it isn't quite as technically inept as some entries - you can still just about tell what's going on - the problem remains, that this still relies too much on what the viewer brings to the event, demonstrating a lazy approach to film-making. That's a shame, as there are sections that indicate the presence of cinematic skill: witness the interview with a homeless person, or even Natasha hearing again the audio footage from the expedition. As far as I'm concerned, the terror displayed there is a great deal more effective and chilling, than any blurred frame or two of something whizzing inexplicably across the camera's field of view. And that's something which has likely not changed over the years since the first unwitting cameraman wandered off in search of mystery.

[June 2015]

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