Directed by Philip Adrian Booth
Produced by Christopher Saint Booth, Shane Dax Taylor
Written by Phillip Adrian Booth, Christopher Saint Booth, Shane Dax Taylor
Director of Photograpy Philip Adrian Booth, Marcel Cabrera, Roberto Correa
Music by Christopher Saint Booth
Cast: Stefany Huckaby, Annie Burgstede, Kristin Novak, Jason Lasater
2005/97 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD
Judging whether or not one likes a film is based on one's own personal taste. Thus, we all know what we would consider a "bad" movie. But, have you ever seen a movie that was infuriatingly bad? That is, a movie that, for all intents and purposes, could have or should have been good and wasn't. DEATH TUNNEL falls squarely into that category as it is the epitome of a movie where so much work was put into the look of the movie that someone forgot to write a story to go with it.
DEATH TUNNEL takes place in an abandoned sanitorium in Kentucky where over 60,000 people died of the “White Plague”. Five young women -- Heather (Stefany Huckaby), Tori (Annie Burgstede), Ashley (Kristin Novak), Devon (Melanie Lewis), and Elizabeth (Yolanda Pecoraro) -- have been trapped in the decaying building as part of an initiation. They must stay in the hospital for five hours in order to pass the test. Richie (Jason Lasater) and Cameron (Jesse Bernstein) have rigged cameras throughout the building so that they can watch the women explore the rooms, but their plans to scare the ladies goes awry when the ghosts who haunt the sanitorium decide to make their presence felt. The ghosts begin to pick off the women one-by-one and it looks as if surviving the night will be impossible.
DEATH TUNNEL couldn’t make change for a dollar because it makes no sense. Writers Christopher Saint Booth, Philip Adrian Booth, and Shane Dax Taylor were apparently satisfied with the concept of the haunted hospital and decided that any further details would be unnecessary. Beyond the fact that Ashley is a bitch and Heather has a mysterious past, we never learn anything about the characters. The “initiation” is incredibly vague, as it seems that competing the task won’t get the participants into any organization, but it will allow them to socialize with the cool people. You may notice that if you arrange the first letters of the women’s names in a certain order, you’ll get the word “death”. We’re never told if this is purely a coincidence, or if they were chosen for that reason. (When the women wake up (?) at the sanitorium, they find that they’ve been dressed in nighties which have the first letter of their names painted in red on the front. This is never explained either. For that matter, who dressed them?)
The history of the hospital is explained to an extent, but little is said about the ghosts until the end, when a quick explanation for the haunting is given...only to just as non-sensical as the rest of the movie. The “death tunnel” of the title is a passage in the hospital which was used to transport bodies and it’s supposed to be the scariest part of the place. It’s not. DEATH TUNNEL raises more questions then answers and even the most dedicated viewer will find it very hard to care about the story.
The poorly-written story stymies any chance that the film has to succeed. The thing that separates DEATH TUNNEL from every other poorly written horror film is that the filmmakers clearly put a lot of work into the look of the movie. In fact, they may have put a little too much work into the film’s appearance. The film was shot at the Waverly Hills Sanitorium in Kentucky, a real-life location which has been featured on programs such as “Scariest Places on Earth”. The location offers a nice environment for creating a spooky atmosphere. But, the movie relies a little too much on its location, as we are treated to for too many establishing shots of the hospital. “Yes, it’s taking place there. We get it.”
Director Philip Adrian Booth seems to be determined to prove to us that he has a grasp on every filmmaking technique, as scenes are film with quick cuts, blurred shots, a “damaged film” look, black-and-white photography, flash frames, and shaky frames. If used sparingly, some of these techniques can be effective, but the overuse of these elements reached its peak with THIRTEEN GHOSTS and since that time, any film that goes overboard in this sense only seems derivative. By over-directing every moment of the movie, the Booths negate any tension that the film could possibly create by constantly drawing the viewer out of the film. And the fact that the movie attempts to cut back-and-forth between multiple characters doesn't help. Nearly every scene in the movie reminded me of a cut-scene from a video game and I would think, "OK, now something is going to happen." and nothing did. I can imagine DEATH TUNNEL being shown in a filmmaking class to teach the students how not to make a movie.
DEATH TUNNEL has more going for it than most low-budget horror films. It has a great location, a cast that actually has resumes, an interesting kernel of an idea, and a director with a vision. However, all of this is squandered and the result is a dreadful boring film that never, ever gets to the point.
DEATH TUNNEL comes to DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The movie was shot on digital video and the transfer looks great. The image is very sharp and clear, as the image shows no grain (unless it's intentional) or defects from the source material. The image is stable and the colors look very good. Although the movie takes place in the darkened hospital, the action is always visible. The image showed some video noise at times, but otherwise it looked fine. The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track shows off the great sound design in the film. The haunted hospital is filled with creepy noises which flow from the front and rear channels. The stereo and surround effects are very good and the dialogue is clear and audible. The subwoofer effects are well-placed and very strong. The DVD offers a great technical presentation of a lousy movie.
The DEATH TUNNEL DVD carries four extras. "Death is in Fashion" (2 minutes) is a truly bizarre extra, as it's a fashion photo shoot of the main actresses in their various costumes. "DEATH TUNNEL: An Inside Look at the Movie" (21 minutes) contains brief snippets of an interview with the director and producers, which appears to be taken from a regional interview show. This is intercut with behind-the-scenes footage and comments from the cast and crew. There are interviews with the five main actresses and a brief look at the location. The extras are rounded out by two still galleries, one of Behind the Scenes Photos and the other of Production Stills.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©