A movie directed by Eli Roth
Shot on location at an early-20th-century sanatorium in Kentucky built for victims of the White Plague, this well-crafted indie hits all the right notes of Gothic, macabre terror. For a college initiation rite, five young women must spend five hours … see full wiki
Even a cinematic snob like me cant pass up a movie called Death Tunnel. I mean, if Ive sat through Hostel and the three currently available Saw movies, then it wouldnt be too much of a stretch for a catchy title like that one to grab my attention.
So much the worse for me.
A virulent illness called the white plague hit Kentucky in the 1930s. A huge sanatorium, now derelict, was built to house the sick and perhaps find a cure. Fast forward 70 years. For some reason, an unnamed fraternity has an initiation rite for girls who will then, apparently, be given special access to the house and the brothers. The refrain is: Five girls, five floors, five hours. This gets amended later adding 5 ghosts at the end. Really big DUH.
The young and very buxom (again enormous duh) young women are dressed in nightgowns. Thusly barely clad, the young women are given no task to perform, so it seems like they just have to stick around the spooky place for 5 hours while young men try to scare the crap out of them. But this is a scary movie, so it is obvious that the scare tactics are taken over and instead of being a sadistic fun for all fest it turns into a death march of sorts. That is obvious, so I spoil nothing. Hey, its called Death Tunnel, not Hey Im Just Kidding Tunnel.
Please notice that I didnt name a character or actor. The reason for this is also, duh. Their purpose is to have big breasts (or well shaped muscles for the few guys) and to scream and . . . well . . . I neednt say more here because . . .
Spoilers below, you cannot fault me for wanting to go into a bit of analysis for something this bad.
First the good (and surprisingly there is actually some good). Auteur Philip Adrian Booth does a decent job of creating mood. There is a Nine Inch Nails quality to the eeriness. The narrative goes from the events in the sanatorium back to the party where the girls were chosen. It also makes links, via the ghosts, to the past, however this is done artfullymost of the time. There are moments meant only to shock, and I wasnt shocked at all, so for this cineaste they were complete failures. The music was also fitting. Too many scare/shock/slash films use crashy dissonant music; I think it may be a rule. If so, Death Tunnel strays from this rule because the music, though eerie, never loses a sonorous quality.
I checked the credits and didnt notice a collagen enhancer. This is a shame because all of the womens lips were decadent and Im certain if the doctor were listed, he/she would have to beat off other women with some kind of surgical steel instrument.
And this moves nicely to: boy the acting sucked. It takes nothing for a woman to looked pîssed off, then to scream (for men in similar situations it is sarcastic or constipated and the scream is an octave lower). This alone would be enough for it to have a very short life on the big screen then went direct to DVD.
But wait, theres more. The acting was dreadful, but the story was worse. The frat boys dont pick the same place each time for the initiation, so they apparently use this sanatorium for the first time. According to the girl who lives the longest, the place called each of them to it. All in all there are 5 girls and three guys, but the first two are dispatched quickly leaving the prettiest of the bunch left to assist what was left of the 5 girls. So Heather (Steffany Huckaby,) through a series of random hallucinations, believes that the building is out to get them.
Hey, this is a horror flick, so it is going to take more effort to suspend disbelief.
What truly destroys Death Tunnel is the ending. Slasher films all end in pretty much the same way, everyone is killed except for one person. That person is then going to show up in the inevitable sequel and will be the first to die in that one. Not so in this one, and instead of the uniqueness saving the film, it squashes it like a cheap cigarette. The only girl survives with the only boy. She believes she must stay and find a cure for the white plague (since the sanatorium was used to bilk grant money and had no intention of trying to cure the infected). She heads back into the building and the boy goes with her hand in hand.
The beginning states the film was based on true events. The credits say In honor of the victims of the Waverly Hills sanatorium. To be honest, if I were a victim, Id come back to haunt Mr. Booth until he atoned for this vicious sin.
Viewing Format: DVD
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