Sunday, October 7, 2012

Movie Appraisal: The Tunnel (2011)

So, here is an absolutely wonderful "found footage" horror film. I have to admit to liking most films of this type already, even if the gimmick does wear thin at times. I really thought that Apollo 18, The Blair Witch Project, and Paranormal Activity were good films the first time I saw them though. And I'm sure there are plenty of people who would disagree with me that those films are quality. And that is an absolute shame. These are good horror flicks. They don't usually have the budget of most regular horror movies, but they really do the best they can. The biggest problem with these types of movies is the cinematography, which worked well enough in this movie. I didn't like the camera shaking all over the place. That was rough. And the prevailing moments of darkness and nothing else were a little too prevalent, but all-in-all this is a movie that works on many levels. I like it for what it is.

I can compare it to Marebito quite easily, both exploring abandoned tunnels. This film works better than that one though in almost every conceivable way. I know most people would probably rather get the impression of [REC] or the American remake Quarantine, but this movie is quite a bit different than either of them. It's very much in the realm of a movie that is set in an abandoned place. The abandoned tunnels under Sydney, Australia work wonders for a horror movie. Maybe not quite as well as the Parisian tunnels and catacombs might, but it isn't too far off.

While the movie's camerawork isn't anything special, the acting and especially the interviews that are interspersed throughout the movie with the found footage worked incredibly well. I was really digging this flick even if it was a little gimmicky. The documentary style really worked well here. It really felt like a somewhat incoherent and odd documentary, something that would have been on the Discovery or History Channels before they went to hell and reality shows. The movie had a ton of horror in it as well, coming off as a fairly paranoid experience. It was nerve-wracking, not because the characters were amazing or the story was that involving, but because the experience that they were having was really quite something. The fact that the government knew something more than they were saying was creepy enough, but when the crew discovers the evil lurking in the darkness, it's about as terrifying as a movie like this can be.

The "monster" or "creature" or whatever you'd like to call it was well done too. It didn't have a lot of camera time, and that was definitely for the best. The few times we do see it, it looks deformed and just enough wrong to make your blood run hot. I have to admit it was pretty creepy, although the more I saw of it the less creepy it became. The aesthetic as well was amazing. The look of the tunnels and what seemed like half-finished ruins or something like that really appealed to me. I love that kind of look in movies, and I think it's woefully underdone.

I don't have much more to say. I really liked this film. It may not be the scariest or the most memorable film around, but for an indie Australian horror movie, I thought it worked better than it had any right to work. I enjoyed it from beginning to end although I think you really have to be in the mood for a movie like this. The one downside to this movie is that towards the end it kind of slogs, and in a dialogue heavy movie like this, when nobody is talking and the screen is black, it's much more annoying than tense. Natasha, the lead character, starts screaming towards the end of the movie and never really stops... and that just takes me right out of the film. The whole ending really feels very piecemeal and cobbled together, never quite as good as the rest of the flick. The horror kind of fades away like it was never there. I both like that and dislike that from different views. I like it because they're safe in the light and on the surface, but I dislike it because the tension fades away so quickly, especially when I have no special fondness for the last character to die.

I don't have much else to say. It's a relatively simple movie about a news reporter and her crew trying to find some truth in Sydney's tunnels and finding so much more than they intended. While I really enjoyed it, this will not be a movie for everybody even though I think it does the found footage gimmick better than most. I thought it worked well, really doing its best to be a great little horror film. I have to recommend this one, especially if you're at all interested in this kind of movie.

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