The Horror Zine Review
A Film by Carlo Ledesma
Director: Carlo Ledesma
A Film by Carlo Ledesma
Review by C. Dennis Moore
Most of my movie reviewing career has been spent watching and reviewing the cream of the crap, and I'll be the first to say those bad movies are the easiest and most fun to review. But I always find myself waxing woeful, wishing for just one really good movie to come along and break up the monotony. The Tunnel is that really good movie.
I loved this movie!
I’ve noticed that Australia is doing some very interesting things lately with the found footage method, used most effectively in 2009’s Lake Mungo and this year’s The Tunnel. In The Tunnel, we see the movie through not just one handheld but through several different lenses from news camera to handheld with night vision to various security cameras, all used realistically and convincingly. The shots never feel staged for the viewer’s benefit, save those shots set up as part of the news crew’s report.
In this story, Natasha (Bel Delia, The Jesters) believes she’s stumbled upon a really important story: the New South Wales government’s sudden abandonment of a plan to store recycled water beneath the city. This has led her to find film footage she believes shows someone or something living under the city, abducting people. She and her crew of producer Pete (Andy Rodoreda, East West 101), cameraman Steve (Steve Davis, in his first acting gig) and soundman “Tangles” (Luke Arnold, Broken Hill) head into the tunnels in search of the truth.
They’ve got excellent locations; Natasha has studied the history of the underground tunnels and Peter even has a map. But Tangles is detecting something curious on his headphones and when he goes into the next room to dampen the sound of the underground bell Natasha is trying to capture for their story, he doesn’t come back.
The next hour is spent in a frantic search which quickly devolves into a mere fight to survive and escape. With very minimal light and absolutely no friggin’ idea what the hell is in the dark with them, the crew dives deep into themselves, mining any last bit of strength they can possibly muster in a simple effort to survive.
In a sea of lesser movies I’ve seen over the last several years, The Tunnel really centers me and steps up to the plate by giving me 90 excellent minutes.
I repeat: I loved this movie!
Shot on an embarrassingly small budget, the filmmakers (written and produced by the team of Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey) raised money through something called the 135k Project wherein each frame of the movie is sold off for one dollar. 135 frames equals 90 minutes, I believe, and since The Tunnel is 90 minutes, I would assume their budget to have been $135,000. And if this is the film that they made for what is, let’s face it, an almost nonexistent budget....man I can’t wait to see what they can do with some real money.
The cast is absolutely fantastic, especially Bel Delia and Steve Davis, who plays a cameraman and who really IS a cameraman. That is a brilliant move on the part of the filmmakers as opposed to hiring an actor and letting him be the cameraman.
Since half the story is told through Steve’s camera, it adds credibility to the viewing when shot by a professional. Also, the narrative is broken up by interviews of the cast who recount the events as in a news story, and Davis and Delia did their best to sell it. And sell it they did. Davis was simply remarkable, full of genuine emotion and life. I want to see Steve Davis in more roles because there’s something very charming and magnetic about him; he just draws you to him.
Director Carlo Ledesma had a strategy for this movie: give the actors the script, but let it serve as a guideline, indicating the scene, the story, but to bring it fully to life and give The Tunnel the feel of an honest news story gone awry. He let the actors work their way through the scenes in a more naturalistic way and in doing so, the script isn’t THE WAY, only the general idea. Given these four unique personalities and the actors playing them, I think that was absolutely the way to go and you can see evidence in several scenes of how genuine everything comes across.
The Tunnel DVD is a 2-disc set with over 2 hours of extra features, including an alternate ending that I’m glad they didn’t use and a 70+ minute behind the scenes documentary which, after seeing the movie, added so much more to the experience for me the second time I watched it (with director and writer/producers’ commentary, which was equally informative).
For me, The Tunnel was just the thing I needed and I’m thrilled to have been given a chance to see and tell the world about it; every accolade the movie and its makers receive, they earned. This was an awesome movie and I will definitely be watching it again. And again. It’s that good.
About the film:
About the Director
Directing The Tunnel is Filipino-Australian director, Carlo Ledesma, a Bacolod native who migrated to Sydney, Australia in 2004 and has since won numerous awards for his short films including the 2007 comedy, The Haircut which took out a special prize at the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Tunnel is Carlo Ledesma’s feature film debut and he could not be more excited as he teams up with two close collaborators - Distracted Media’s Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey. From 1997 to 2004 Carlo Ledesma worked as a senior producer and presenter on the acclaimed Philippine sports and travel show Gameplan, a show which won several awards and gained a strong cult following.
Carlo moved to Sydney in 2004 and his first short film in Australia, Locked, was named Best Film at the annual University of Sydney Film Awards and he hasn’t looked back since. In 2007 Carlo Ledesma’s film The Haircut was awarded the Mini Movie Channel Award for Best Short Film at the Cannes Short Film Corner. The prize money from that enabled Carlo Ledesma to get started on his next project, The Last One.
Carlo Ledesma also shot and directed a feature-length documentary for Nike called My Game which explored the Philippines’ devout passion for basketball. My Game premiered in October 2007 in Manila to glowing reviews and the DVD which was released in a limited run, is now a much sought-after collector’s item. Carlo Ledesma now has several projects lined up. He has two feature scripts in development. And recognizing the ever-evolving ways to reach out to modern audiences, Carlo Ledesma is working on an interactive film and graphic novel tie-up.
About the Editor
An editor for well over a decade, in 2008 Enzo Tedeschi produced and edited the controversial and globally successful independent feature documentary Food Matters. Most recently he produced and edited the epic World War 1 period film Ghosts of War and also post-produced and edited The Last One with director, Carlo Ledesma. Enzo Tedeschi has edited numerous television series, documentaries and award- winning short films. He worked in the editing department on Shane Abbess’ Gabriel, as well as co-producing and editing the behind-the-scenes documentary for that film; Behind The Madness.
Other post production credits include the Logie nominated Things To Try Before You Die, and the observational documentary series AFP for Zapruder’s Other Films. Enzo was nominated in for an Australian Editor’s Guild Award in 2008 for Best Editing in Television Non-Drama for Gardening For Kids With Madi. As a Producer for Distracted Media, Enzo currently has several projects in development with his business partner Julian Harvey.
About the Reviewer
C. Dennis Moore
C. Dennis Moore lives in St. Joseph, Missouri. He’s been writing just about forever with over sixty stories and novellas published, plus a collection of his short stories called Terrible Thrills. Recent and upcoming publications include the Vile Things anthology from Comet Press and his novella Epoch Winter will be published by Drollerie Press.