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Manhole - Movie Poster
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South Korea 2014


Shin Jae-young

Jeong Kyeong-ho
Jeong Yu-mi
Kim Sae-ron
Choi Deok-moon
Jo Dal-hwan
Lee Yeong-yoo
Seong Yoo-bin
Kim Bin-woo

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Story: For months now people constantly vanish, especially women and children. With the help of CCTVs Killer Soo-cheol (Jeong Kyeong-ho) lies in wait for his victims and drags them into the sewers where he has his hideout. One of his victims is the daughter of Jong-ho (Choi Deok-moon), who is desperately looking for his child and while doing so steals important information as well as the gun of his friend and police officer Pil-gyoo (Jo Dal-hwan). Thus, Pil-gyoo starts looking for his friend and the two get closer and closer to the killer. Soo-cheol's latest victim is the girl Soo-jeong (Kim Sae-ron), but Soo-jeong isn't stupid and manages to escape her kidnapper for now, even though the sewers turn out to be a true labyrinth, in which the killer still has the best hand. However, her sister Yeon-seo (Jeong Yu-mi) is looking for her as well. A deadly game of hide-and-seek commences in the dark sewers...

Review: When it comes to movies like "Manhole" the true fun just starts when the credits have rolled. And only if you happen to be in a position to write a review in which you can rant about the completely crackbrained plot holes of the movie. Accordingly, consider yourself forewarned at this point that at least half of the space is reserved for wild ranting. Those who simply want to know if "Manhole" at least serves as genre entertainment will get an answer right away, though: No. Except, you really are capable of completely checking your brain at the door and also call yourself a hardcore fan of thrillers that revolve around a killer who lives in the sewers. But let's be honest: That is a very special preference you would need to have here...

Manhole - Film Screenshot 11

Sure, you somehow are under the impression at first that the dirty and dark atmosphere will manage to captivate you. The pictures look neat, the actors aren't completely unknown and suspense surely can be found somewhere, too. Well, that's what you think. But you won't find any story here. Instead the screenplay's pages are almost entirely filled with aimless wandering about the sewers. Dialogues? No, not really, and when there are they turn out to be unintentionally funny. Characters with some sort of personality? No, completely interchangeable since there is no background story or anything similar. A killer with a motive? No, something about his family, which is touched upon during some small flashbacks thrown in. Thrilling hunts? No, stylistically the movie is as repetitive as the last few lines of this passage.

Manhole - Film Screenshot 12

But there has to be something positive, right? Well, it's really hard to find it, especially since there isn't even any real gore, which at least would have aimed to please the kind of audience that is into this stuff. Maybe fans of bad cosplay will find something noteworthy since thirty-something Jeong Yu-mi ("Silenced", "My Dear Desperado") can be seen in a school uniform during some flashbacks. While her fellow actress Kim Sae-ron ("A Girl at My Door", "The Man from Nowhere") apparently always stays the same age. But wait, that's in fact one of the movie's flaws which is the least troublesome. Because the list of moronic plot holes is outright begging you to make a drinking game of this movie - which qualifies as one positive aspect after all...

Let's ignore for a second that the killer often whistles some kind of melody, which actually isn't one, simply to underline that he is insane. Then there are also the police who on principle don't answer to an emergency call, even if it comes from a colleague and although for months the news are full of countless individuals gone missing in the area in question and the police actually should have their hands full dealing with it. A call with a cell is interrupted by bad reception while crucial information is given. How about a text message? It gets through when it gets through and when it does it won't be corrupted or anything! Just an idea. And a single police officer barely fits through the manhole, but countless victims are pulled into it? How are we supposed to picture this? The killer loading the victims on his head or what? Any why does Yeon-seo cry for her DEAF sister?!?

Manhole - Film Screenshot 13

I could continue this forever, but let's just summarize that "Manhole" is incredibly stupid and accordingly the protagonists, too. So what's going on in the thriller? A ridiculous game of hide-and-seek which becomes tiresome from the very get-go. We follow the different individuals through the sewers and this for minutes and hours that follow, whereas sometimes we only get to see their feet. The camera work is pretty strange at some points as well. But even worse is the editing which is aiming at creating some sort of fast pacing which the movie simply doesn't offer. Ultimately, boredom will creep in when it becomes obvious that you won't get more in "Manhole" than aimless wandering about the sewers with a serial killer who is a tiny bit smarter than a sewer rat and by that is a little bit ahead of everyone else in the film. The dark setting is the only positive aspect of this otherwise ridiculous thriller.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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