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DVD Review: ‘The Tunnel’

★☆☆☆☆

Australian director Carlo Ledesma’s latest film The Tunnel (2011) wins the gold medal for the most misleading advertising campaign so far this year, due to its promotion as a horror – ironically, the main element that is lacking. In 2007, the New South Wales government abandoned plans to alleviate a sever drought by recycling vast quantities of water found in a series of disused train tunnels beneath Sydney. A year later, journalist Natasha (Bel Deliá) and her team venture into the tunnels to find out why – a decision they may not live to regret.

The Tunnel is easily one of the most boring films you are ever likely to see this year. The first half hour is spent establishing the identities of the characters, which is clearly intended to make you feel for them when the terror finally kicks in. Yet by the time Natasha and her laddish team have finally made it to the dank labyrinth of passageways beneath Sydney, the chances are that you’ll be so comatose from boredom that whatever it was constituted the film’s horrific element (which, incidentally, is never made completely clear) has despatched one of them before you realise what’s happening.

There have been a few effective uses of underground tunnel systems in horror entertainment – Gary Sherman’s Death Line (1973) and the James Herbert’s skin-crawling novel Domain to name but two. The reason they worked was that they were deftly plotted and well written, two essential elements missing from The Tunnel. Sadly, you don’t really feel for any of its obnoxious characters, and the fact that the story is told after the event by two of them clearly indicates that some survive – which is a shame.

Even the found footage gimmick, which appeared fresh when introduced by the groundbreaking The Blair Witch Project (1999) but is fast becoming passé in the field of chiller cinema, does little to save this lacklustre production from disappearing down the tubes. The Tunnel is one ‘horror’ that deserves to be buried.

Cleaver Patterson