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Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Tunnel (2011) Horror Monster

The Tunnel Movie (2011) - There has to be a threshold where the found footage film is totally played out for a viewer. I am wondering if I have met that threshold after watching the tunnel. The first of these films that I remember seeing has to be The Blair Witch Project (1999) and I got the freedom the medium gave the film maker. If you are skilled enough you can turn a very small budget into a movie good enough to be presentable to a larger audience. That film made for sixty thousand dollars grossed over 14 million as a surprise hit. I don't think I am wrong to give it credit for starting the craze that has only grown the last few years. Still when you run across a movie that fails to capture the magic of the hand held footage variety of film it is really discouraging.
   To be fair The Tunnel is not the garden variety found footage film, instead it is done in the style of celebrity ghost stories TV show. The survivors of the ordeal retell their story in interviews and the footage they shot is used to supplement that telling. One could question the wisdom of using the structure of bad cable television to structure a film but lets be honest the sub genre has to look for new ways to do it as most people are already tired of the camcorder, security camera, shaking as they run footage found in almost every one of these films. At least there was some quality stationary camera work mixed in. Then when they mix in the cameraman's shots, security cameras they past and the night vision of the camcorder they were able to break the look and feel up making it more tolerable.
Similar to The Blair Witch Project, The Tunnel tells a tale of the unseen and the reactions of the characters are the focus of the horror. Hoping to slowly build from their lighthearted start to apprehensive to terrified in the third act is a very difficult trick to pull off. This film tries to use the office politics of the crew as well as their personal motivations as a base for the reason they end up in the situation they encounter. Exploring there motivations and relationships through the mock interview give a decent enough depth to the character but in the end it is secondary reason the film ultimately fails to impress.
  In the end it is that the story is not particularly interesting or scary that makes it tiresome to get through. Everyone at this point has seen this "style" of story somewhere. We have through camcorders followed characters around in the dark and watched them reacted when something goes bump in the darkness. It is a known quantity and all the window dressing about climate change and water recycling can't change that fact. Blurry snatches of glowing eyes are just not going to get our juices flowing at this point, and the fact that two thirds of the film are done when you get that bit does not help the cause. Then have we not already done this story in C.H.U.D. (1984) of course if they had just remade that movie I would probably be bitching about how the new actor can't hold a candle to Daniel Stern who killed it in that film.
  It is not that there was anything offensive about this film. The actors were all capable consisting of  four main roles on the film crew, Producer Peter (Andy Rodoreda), Journalist Natasha (Bel Delia), Cameraman Steven (Steve Davis) and sound guy Tangles (Luke Arnold). They play the confused apprehensive, scare and terrified role well enough. There was enough internal conflict and competing motivation to carry a reasonable story along. What didn't work the most was it was just not very frightening. The special effects were close to nonexistent and when they were employed the shots were way too short. Director Carlo Ledesma shot them from too far away and without enough light to make the creatures scary. It could be the limited budget meant the effects would look to back up close and well lit. Unfortunately this made the shot less impressive.
  When the story played out it really seemed too many possibilities were left behind in the tunnels and the interpersonal story was just not what a horror fan is looking for. I would recommend not going down into the depths of this attempt.

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