A man is trapped after falling down a manhole in this delightfully bonkers single-space survival thriller from Japan that keeps the twists and surprises coming thick and fast until the very end.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Contained thrillers featuring trapped protagonists have always been popular with audiences, whether it’s Colin Farrell holed up in Phonebooth or Ryan Reynolds six-foot under in Buried. The sub-genre's latest entry is #Manhole, a claustrophobic survival feature centred on the unfortunate predicament of handsome and charming Shunsuke, who drunkenly tumbles down a manhole on the way home from a surprise party. One second his friends and co-workers are celebrating his good fortune on the eve of becoming the apparent heir to his future father-in-law’s real estate empire and in the next, he’s waking up in an abandoned concrete shaft with a hangover from hell.
There’s a great deal of cathartic entertainment in watching someone mine every available resource and problem-solve under ever increasing pressure. And for much of #Manhole’s runtime this is what unfolds as Shunsuke makes the most of a fully charged cell phone and items in his briefcase. That is until the film radically switches gears when Shunsuke finally turns to social media with a plan so-crazy-it-may-just-work—that is if the gas leaks, rising water, blood loss and poisonous foam don’t seal his fate first. And just when you think you know how this plays out, the film delivers one final WTF twist that transforms everything you’ve just been watching. — Ant Timpson
“#Manhole already stands apart from other confined escape thrillers by putting smartphone technology at the center of the plot. While thrillers and horror movies keep using the sudden lack of signal as a crutch to eliminate the complexities this brings to the table, this film is actually interested in exploring how dependent we are on our phones. Since there’s a piece of equipment in our pockets capable of doing almost everything, from telling us where we are on a map to taking pictures, we feel lost and confused when our smartphones stop working. That’s precisely the dire situation Shunsuke finds himself in, eventually leading him to seek help from the digital swarm. While the collective knowledge of the internet can hold any kind of answer, the anonymity and speed of social media also allow people to make a bad situation worse.” — Marco Vito Oddo, Collider