In 2007 the New South Wales government suddenly scrapped a plan to utilise the water in the disused underground train tunnels beneath Sydney’s St James Train Station.
In 2008, chasing rumours of a government coverup and urban legends surrounding the sudden backflip, investigative journalist Natasha Warner led a crew of four into the underground labyrinth.
They went down into the tunnels looking for a story – until the story found them.
This is the film of their harrowing ordeal. With unprecedented access to the recently declassified tapes they shot in the claustrophobic subway tunnels, as well as a series of candid interviews with the survivors, we come face to face with the terrifying truth.
This never before seen footage takes us deep inside the tunnels bringing the darkness to life and capturing the raw fear that threatens to tear the crew apart, leaving each one of them fighting for their lives.
Sounds like another Blair Witch rip off, right? Wrong. Well, sort of.
The similarities with Blair Witch (or any “cam” movie from the last 10 years) end with framework of a “real” account of the experiences of real people in a horrible situation. The filmography in The Tunnel is more on par with Troll Hunter than Blair Witch although filthy, dark tunnels underneath Sydney bare no resemblance to Norwegian mountains and forests (and Trolls!) the camera work is similar in that it manages to not look like it was filmed by a 12 year old with a web cam. The plot reason for this is that most of the footage is taken by a professional news cameraman (and sound man) on a commercial camera so you don’t need to suspend your disbelief too much, don’t worry though, there is a hand held with night vision along for the ride too, for extra spooky glowing eyes effect.
So, yes it’s a “cam” movie but quality-wise a step above the usual, the frames below don’t really do it justice.
There’s more to this story than the movie itself. It’s no big surprise is that the whole thing was filmed on a shoe string budget, no-name actors, a couple of cameras and a ready made location aren’t going to cost a lot.
However, the interesting thing about The Tunnel is how it has been funded and distributed. It’s not a Radiohead-like pay-what-you-want scheme, nor is it a donation/kickstarter scheme. In what the producers are calling the 135k project they are funding the production of the movie by selling individual frames (in electronic form, not hard copy) at $1 each. You can buy one single frame, one second worth (25 frames) or whatever quantity you wish. A special bonus is that one lucky random frame purchaser will share in the total profits from the proceeds of DVD sales to the tune of 1%, that could amount to anything from 14c to a million dollars, who knows.
In addition to funding the movie this way they are also giving it away for free via BitTorrent. As I type there are about 8000 leachers and 1500 seeds but yesterday it was more like 20000 and 5000. I can’t find any info on how many actual downloads have been completely but I would think “quite a lot” is a good estimate.
There is a hard copy DVD of the movie available but these days even if I buy a DVD I end up ripping it and watching the ripped version via the HTPC and rarely watch the extras/special features. So I thought that rather than buy the “hard copy” DVD I would show my support for the movie and their innovative approach by buying some frames, shown below (no spoilers in there, unfortunately), if you look closely you will see that I own these frames, cool!
One thing I forgot to mention is that I utterly loved the movie, not only was I sucked in by the characters and the story (partially founded in fact) but it scared the living shit out of me. I should know better than to watch this type of movie after midnight in a quiet house with a long dark corridor to traverse between the screen and bed, I had to use my phones torch move to get through the pitch black corridor. That’s the sign of a great horror movie right there.