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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Yohei Fukuda

Shoichi Matsuda
Wataru Kaoru
Ishino Atsushi
Tsukamoto Sanae

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What's it about

After being reccommended by a friend, Satoshi heads to a website called DeathTube, a YouTube clone that appears only very briefly every now and again, but when it does it's immensely popular. Instead of featuring the normal YouTube videos, the site features a number of snuff videos and live shows where folks have to overcome challenges in a bid to stay alive. After watching one victim and not helping the guy via typing in an instant message/comment, Satoshi switches off his computer to look at pictures with his girlfriend. When Satoshi wakes up, he find himself in room to be broadcast on DeathTube.

Is it good movie?

Considering that the Japanese cornered the market on some truly f*cked-up films (the GUINEA PIG series, for one), I'm surprised that it took this long for something like DEATHTUBE to come around. But now that it's here, was it worth the wait? Considering that I'm not much of a 'torture porn' fan, this really wasn't my thing to begin with. Although I must admit that I was curious to see how things unfolded, seeing as the cinematographer for the gorefest GROTESQUE was at the helm of this feature. But after seeing the film, I can say that my opinion hasn't swayed.

Obviously, the best thing that the film has going for it is the concept. Really, I'm kind of shocked that this idea hadn't been explored earlier. The addition of having viewers the choice of helping the contestants through instant messaging is kind of cool, too. This of course leads into how the next 'contestants' for the show are chosen by the site's operators grabbing the viewers at that particular time. The whole notion of that being oh-so-plausible in reality is kind of unsettling.

Another spin on the SAW concept are the 'games' that the contestants must undertake to survive. These aren't the twisted and ironic types of challenges Jigsaw put folks through. Rather we have a range of puzzles and brain teasers ranging from the simple (a set of child's building blocks) to things a bit more difficult (memorizing and typing a very long piece of text under a short time limit). In that way, it's more torturous to see these folks having to use a large portion of their brain to survive, rather than having to make the moralistic choices. Further horrifying things are the overseers of the games: Pon-Kichi the bear and his similarly-dressed helpers.Yeah, it's a bunch of guys in Pokemon bearsuits, but dammit if it isn't creepy having a guy in a yellow bear suit holding a gun to your head.

Unfortunately, despite those pluses, DEATHTUBE is hindered by some rather glaring minuses. First of all, it's difficult to empathize with your protagonists when they lack any endearing qualities. In other words, you could care less about these shmucks being locked in a room with guys in teddy bears outfits. It also doesn't help that the acting is largely of the 'meh' variety. In one such instance, a character has been poisoned and is taking forever to keel over. Pon-Kichi the bear pops up to comment that she's not a very good actress. I don't know if that was supposed to be funny or ironic. All I saw was someone who wouldn't f*cking drop. Another thing is the overall cheap look the film has. Granted, running a snuff video website doesn't allow you the luxury of having elaborate sets, but given the budget of the film itself, it exacerbates things. As for the gore, other than a bit involving a drill, it's pretty low budget. Don't expect to see the stuff you saw in GROTESQUE. The film also dragged on for far too long, which at 117 minutes, is too long for a film of this type.

To say that DEATHTUBE is a disappointment is pretty accurate. What could've been a nice twist on the genre turned into a chore to sit through. The characters weren't the least bit likeable, the effects were minimal and cheap, and really, the film was just too damn long. Fans of 'torture porn' type films might get some sort of kick out of it, but in reality, they'll be just as disappointed as anyone else.

Video / Audio

Video: Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the film appears to have been shot digitally. As such, the colour feels a bit off and lacks saturation. Grain is present, although very fine and barely noticeable. Had the crew done a better job in terms of lighting, the film would've looked that much better.

Audio: The sole audio track is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese Stereo track with optional English subtitles that's adequate for the job. Given the budget for this film, this is pretty standard.

The Extras

More disappointment. The only extras involve a collection of trailer, one of which is for this film, and a stills gallery that feels tacked on. It's as if someone did screengrabs of the film as it was playing and slapped the pictures into this gallery.

Last Call

Lacking the cleverness and inventive nature of the SAW series, DEATHTUBE is really a missed opportunity with a lacking budget and so-so effects. Those fans of the SAW and HOSTEL series might glean some entertainment from this one, while the more casual horror fans will write this off as a cash-in.

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