#MANHOLE is a new thriller from Japan currently screening at Fantasia 2023. And yes, it does take place mostly in a manhole. In that sense, it’s not unlike Buried or Cube. We do get to other locations as well. Read our full #Manhole movie review here!
#MANHOLE is a new Japanese thriller with an interesting plot and enough twists to keep it exciting. As the title indicates, it all revolves around a manhole. Our main character falls into one very early in the movie and getting out of there is quite an ordeal.
Personally, I enjoy movies that take place mostly in a single location. As long as the story and characters can carry the single location plot. Movies, such as Buried with Ryan Reynolds, Cube (which was recently remade in Japan), or even the Netflix movie The Platform, are all examples of how this can work.
Continue reading our #Manhole movie review below. Screening at Fantasia 2023.
From happy highs to desperate lows
When #Manhole opens, we meet Shunsuke and see a happy person about to get married. He’s a real estate top salesman about to marry the daughter of the CEO. While he appears to be successful and respected, it seems like he isn’t necessarily the most popular guy. Perhaps it’s just jealousy, maybe it’s more to do with his personality.
It’s the night before his wedding and a surprise party results in him feeling very woozy as he heads home. Before he knows it, he has dropped down an open manhole. Shunsuke is now in a dirty concrete manhole with a deep gush in his thigh and a broken ladder.
In other words, there’s no getting out of this deep manhole, so he needs help from the outside.
Unfortunately, no one answers when he uses his cell phone to call friends. Then he calls the police which doesn’t do much good either.
From being on top of the world, about to marry the boss’s daughter, and on the fast track to a good career, he is now trapped in the dirt. The only one who answers the phone is an ex-girlfriend who really can’t be too bothered to help him.
Social Media to the rescue
With no help from his friends, Shunsuke turns to social media. But not as a man, since he believe no one would help him. No, he creates “#ManholeGirl”… and it works.
On an interesting note, there are quirky names for all the online brands, we’re so familiar with. Google becomes “Searcher”, Twitter (now X) is “Pecker”, and YouTube is “ViewTube”. Rather than making up completely different apps that no one has heard of, the #Manhole filmmakers clearly have fun by spoofing all the biggest brands.
In any case, pretending to be someone else isn’t without consequences, and can get quite tricky!
As Shunsuke, we see Yuto Nakajima who might look like a pristine pretty boy but turns out to be much more than what meets the eye. Yuto Nakajima was previously in the popular J-pop boy band Hey! Say! JUMP. In #Manhole he delivers a damn fine performance that directly results in a chilling ending that stays with you.
Check out #Manhole when you can!
Director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri has created a true nailbiter with #Manhole. Part of the plot twist is hinted at early on, but isn’t that the case with most good thriller mysteries?! I don’t mind it as long as it isn’t too easily given away. The #Manhole screenwriter Michitaka Okada has crafted an elegant plot with dark humor, social satire, and nerve-wracking tension.
With this particular thriller, there is a major twist towards the end. One I really enjoyed because it had a huge impact on the overall story. We’re stuck in the manhole for most of the running time, so we only have one person to follow. This one person communicates with others via his smartphone, but we do see the world through his eyes. Obviously!
While a few of the details towards the end (along with the overall pacing) could’ve been a little tighter, I enjoyed following Shunsuke from start to finish. Even though a twist is expected and hinted at through his actions, it still worked much better than I could’ve hoped for. Be sure to seek this out and watch it when you get the chance.
#Manhole is screening at Fantasia 2023 and we’re reviewing it as part of our film festival coverage.
Director: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri
Writer: Michitaka Okada
Cast: Yuto Nakajima, Nao, Kento Nagayama
A situational thriller depicting the struggle of a man who fell into a manhole.