Macabre…ish Horror Review: Death Tube

Death Tube, 2010/ 1 hr 56 min.



A man lying in a bed, screams as an unseen person lowers a huge blade to his neck and starts sawing. Blood sprays everywhere. This is being broadcast on a site called Death Tube and Inouye is certain it’s fake. He talks about it to his friend, Mr. Tamai on the phone who insists it’s real.  But Inouye is certain, if it were real, the police would be investigating.


But Mr. Tamai says it’s impossible to trace because it’s only live a couple times a year and only for a week. And it goes through a number of overseas servers. Why do that, if it’s fake? The friend says he’s just joking and gets off the phone.


Meanwhile, a new show, prompt comes up and Inouye can’t resist watching. A man screams into a camera that he doesn’t want to die. There seems to be an answer he is meant to give to survive and he chooses wrong. As he bleeds out, Game Over, flashes on the screen.


Inouye misses it to chat with his fiancee, Tomoe, about photos.


The next day, Inouye, wakes up in the same room as the person he was watching on the internet. There are games and weapons placed around the room and instruction. A Rubix cube with script and numbers on the squares is next to instructions “Complete the sentence puzzle in ten minutes or die.” So he flips open his phone and finds there is no signal. Then he tries to force the doors and the lift open. He opens the laptop on the desk and sees himself on the site. The room he’s in is streaming live and the “Real Time Show” prompt is flashing, viewers taunt him in chat. He finally understands he’s on Death Tube. And the clock is counting down.


Inouye realizes he is not the only one. There are 7 other live shows and one of the players solves the cube. Someone else is destroying the room, suddenly his time runs out and a net drops over him while he tries to light a cigarette. His feed goes down and then returns with the man now tied to a chair and a drill coming toward his head. The bit goes deep into his skull and his game is over. Suddenly, the other players fiercely tries to solve their cubes with under 2 minutes left on the clock.


Everyone who completes it gets a greeting from Ponkichi. Represented by an animated bear with a mustache, he says he’s the manager of the Death Tube rooms.


Another player asks if they’ve watched Death Tube and tells them there is no way out except to complete and win the challenges. He also says no one has ever played their way out, everyone has died by the end so far. While they wait for the next challenge, they try to figure out why they are there.


The next challenge includes the sentence on their cubes, which are all different. It has to be adhered to the entire time they are there, if they can’t, the punishment is death. They are told to remove the sheet from the table behind them. On the table are seven challenges. Each person has an hour to do theirs and failure to complete any of them will result in death. Failure to do a challenge will get you death but failing within a challenge, not necessarily, will. If they all clear four challenges, then no one will die.


So they all decide who will do what based on skill level and confidence to give everyone the best chance at survival. They do not get all four cleared, so they have to complete the last three.


After the fifth challenge, their doors slide open.  They think the game is won and they’re in the clear but then, the winner of the last challenge is killed and the surviving captives are distraught. They finally step out of their rooms and meet each other in the hall, then their doors slam behind them. The game isn’t over.


There’s a red ‘line’ on the floor and a sign telling them not to cross it. Ponkichi announces game three over the loud speaker. It’s an obstacle race and it’s hosted by a physical ‘Ponkichi’, a man in a bear suit, standing next to a laptop. One of the captives has a knife and charges at the bear, who raises a gun and shoots him. After which, the bear acts out their obstacle course. The last one to the glass of water dies. They have 3 minutes. One of the contestants, Mr. Maekawa has a plan but the hysterical woman ruins it.


This is going to be a very long process. Only one of them can win and Ponkichi invites them to kill each other to speed it up. It’s up to them. He tells them as he drags out the current victim.


Mr. Maekawa think that the games can be cleared without anyone dying, if no one tries to be the sole survivor. If they work together, they can win.



Back at Inouye’s apartment, an inconsolable, Mr. Tamai wakes up, Tomoe and tells her that Inouye’s on Death Tube.



The group hangs out getting to know each other and trying to figure out what they have in common. Then two bears march in like a bride and groom, dressed as a girl and boy.  Game four is about to begin.



Tomoe tries to call the police but the call is intercepted, she looks up and a giant bear with a gun is in her apartment, pointing a gun at her. She’s raped and becomes a prop in the game.



The challenges are getting much harder. They start playing mind games and out right murder to survive the next few challenges. Inouye is the last one standing but he still has to succeed at one last challenge to be set free.



This Japanese thriller was directed by Yôhei Fukuda. This movie has somewhat gory teasers but it’s not as gory as you might expect. It’s more of a mind game than gore fest. The pacing is pretty good and for a nearly 2 hour movie, it doesn’t feel that long. It is bleak and some times bloody.