Ramzi Abed is not David Lynch. He may be a fan of Lynch, and he may be trying to emulate him with “The Tunnel,” but he’s not Lynch, and he should stop trying to be.
All the Lynch staples are here: odd characters like Deacon (Lloyd Kaufman), who talks nonsense half the time; a seemingly meaningless dancing woman (Masuimi Max); and a protagonist (Casey Wickson as Paul) who is just kind of there as surreal plot points go on around him. (All that’s missing is backwards dialogue, a perpetually screaming infant, and tiny senior citizens.) Unfortunately, Abed can’t pull it together like Lynch does, so what we’re left with is the dream-like death of Paul after proposing to his (perhaps) pregnant girlfriend, who turns him down. Paul also apparently has a dead-end job … maybe. In reality, nobody will care what this is about, and the only people who will enjoy this film are those who pretend to understand it and read more into it than what there is. What it really is is a barely coherent mess of a non-linear narrative that makes people hate independent films. There is a bit of pleasant news, though.
The casting of Kaufman, whose on-the-fly Troma films are gods of independent horror/exploitation cinema, and Mark Borchardt from “American Movie” was a good move. There are also a few other highlights that show Abed may have a future, but those those things aren’t enough to make this an enjoyable experience.
Abed needs to make a film based on his own vision and then pay homage to the greats. Meanwhile, “The Tunnel” plays out as a fanboy misinterpretation of dream cinema while trying to be symbolic and perhaps clever. (Is there some irony there, too?) Yawn.