According to some studies, five to seven percent of the world population suffers from claustrophobia, or the fear of tight, confided spaces. That number may not seem very high, but I’m sure you or someone you know suffers from this fear. I’d like to think I’d do okay in small spaces, if need be, but I also admit that I do not want to find out anytime soon. Imagine being trapped in tight quarters for an undetermined amount of time. What would you do? How would you react? Scary, isn’t it? This is exactly the type of predicament we encounter in Seong-hun Kim’s latest feature film, Tunnel.
Jung-soo (Jung-woo Ha, The Handmaiden) is on his way home for his daughter’s birthday, cake in the back seat and all. On his way, he must pass through the newly constructed Hado tunnel. This proves to be a problem, when the tunnel suddenly starts collapsing all around him. He doesn’t make it to the exit end in time, and is now trapped under an immeasurable amount stone, metal, and every other material used for the tunnel’s construction. With only two small water bottles, his daughter’s birthday cake, and a cell phone, how long can Jung-soo last before the rescue team finds him?
We’ve all seen a film or two that revolves around someone being trapped in a precarious position, right? Sure. There is Buried with Ryan Reynolds. Hell, even Devil can be considered a ‘close quarters horror’ flick. Claustrophobia is a fear that most people can relate to, so why not have it be the center of your film? Throw in some more life-threatening elements, like, oh, I don’t know, the fact that tons of rock can decide to shift and crush you at any moment, and you have yourself a sweet little suspense thriller on your hands, folks.
That is exactly what writer/director Seong-hun Kim has done with Tunnel. A brilliantly crafted script traps our main character in a collapsed tunnel with no real timeframe of his rescue in sight. He is promised a seven day window, then it’s extended by a bit, only to be extended once again, before being abandoned all together. Jung-soo has no true idea of when he will be rescued and his supply of water and sugary cake is running low, which is only expedited by the fact that he has discovered another [wounded] survivor, under the wreckage. This is a truly terrifying experience, if I’ve ever seen one, and a great fit for the ‘survival’ sub-genre of horror and thriller cinema — survive for as long as you can with limited supplies.
I was highly impressed with the entire cast, Jung-woo Ha clearly being the standout of the crowd, as Jung-soo. His character was able to remain calm when necessary, but still emote the fear and loss of hope he experiences, as the film progresses. I’ve seen films where a sole performer had to carry the plot along and am always ecstatic when I find another film to add to that list. While, yes, there are plenty of other actors in the film, there is no doubt that Jung-woo Ha steals the show in Tunnel.
In conjunction with the superb acting, beautiful cinematography and excellent make-up/effects make this film even more enjoyable. Tunnel is not your blood and guts horror film; It doesn’t have supernatural entities haunting and attacking Jung-soo, while he is trapped in his vehicle under the debris. No, there is none of that. That isn’t to say this film should go unnoticed by you crazy horror fans, however. This film is beautifully written, features impressive performances, and will keep your attention the whole way through.
I highly recommend picking up your own copy of the film, available now on DVD from Well Go USA Entertainment.
I give Tunnel 4 swarming press drones out of 5.