Hellbound- The Latest Rival Of Squid Game Review

Hellbound
Image Source: Netflix

The Latest K-Drama Of 2021

Netflix has released yet another bingeable South Korean series, following Squid Game’s sensation in Autumn. Hellbound is the latest ‘trendy show’ to watch, as it was released on Netflix in November and since then has pushed Squid Game off the throne as the no.1 Netflix show in the world. The show follows a series of supernatural demonstrations that are linked together due to the paranormal proclamation that comes with the gruesome killings. Many say the violent series deserves this title; however, I think Squid Game is incomparable to this.

Having watched Squid Game with English dubbing, which resulted in a painfully cringe American voiceovers, I decided to watch Hellbound in its original Korean audio with English subtitles. This immediately made the series more authentic and was a positive addition to the tone of the show. It was difficult to follow the subtitles at the start as it took your eye away from what was happening; however, I soon adapted and found myself preferring the original audio intended for the show.

Initial Thoughts

I was rather sceptical about the first episode as we were introduced to the protagonists and the plot, in fact, my initial thought watching the debut episode was how unnecessarily violent it was. It was horrifically barbaric- far more goory than Squid Game. Fortunately, the nausea and trauma soon passed and by the end of the episode, I was intrigued.

A powerful moment in the series is when everyone bows after witnessing a graphic demonstration. Until now, there had only been rumours and scaremongering regarding the so-called decree; however, this live broadcast had turned any sceptical person into a believer. It was clear the cult leader who received the prophecy had finally got his message out to the public, which was bad news for the detectives as this now shifted the hate onto them, the ones they claimed to defy God’s will. A phrase that stuck with me from the series was ‘ignorance is a sin’. The general saying ‘ignorance is bliss’, essentially states that the less you know, the better off you are, whereas a juxtaposition was mentioned in Hellbound as they used the phrase from the Bible which describes the act of ignorance and the lack of knowledge on God as a sin.

Start From Scratch

By episode 4, there is a complete change of characters, as the storyline progresses to a few years later where there is a national awareness of the decree. I was not a fan of this as I was left wondering what had happened to the previous protagonists. There was no closure and so many question marks left; it was like starting from scratch halfway through a film. By episode 5, the only motivation I had was the desperate need to find closure and to learn what the whole demonstration was about- was it man-made or was it really an act of God?

Another factor of the show that I was conflicted with was the multiple storylines simultaneously occurring, for example, the whole SODO resistance, The New Truth and Arrowhead army. We were somewhat introduced to them, and their policies were explicitly illustrated; however, the vagueness of their purpose had made the plot difficult to follow. To fully enjoy the show and absorb its plot, a paper sheet would need to be distributed to each viewer before starting the show- just a simple list of what each group is and their significance to the development of the storyline.

A Hidden Message

There is a key message to take from watching the show, as it illustrated a form of dystopian humanity living in a totalitarian society. It seemed that The New Truth had more authority than the official Government and had the whole jurisdiction wrapped around their finger. It made you reflect on how the public were on a need-to-know basis, and that the manipulation of superior bodies was evidently influential. Some might say this is mirrored to the current society we live in. Some might say.

Conspiracy Theory

The ending was rather puzzling as the baby that received the decree and bound for hell, despite not being a sinner, managed to survive the demonstration. How was this? We saw that the new-born’s parents died whilst protecting it; however, the reason why the baby survived was not clear. I wasn’t the only one who thought this, as viewers of the K-drama started uploading their conspiracy theories of how the infant survived. An eligible theory mentioned on HITC website was the ‘eye for an eye’ situation as the parents of the baby sacrificed themselves to protect them, therefore took the new-born’s place in Hell. It was more than a coincidence, however, that Park Jung-ja, another unfortunate soul to be bound to Hell a few years back, reincarnated at the very spot her demonstration took place. Is this linked to the miraculous survival of the baby? These plot holes will hopefully be filled in the second series.

Hopeful

Personally, I think Hellbound was overrated and its title as the no.1 Netflix show in the world a bit of a stretch. Although I overall enjoyed Hellbound and am intrigued to see how it all ends, I still have a soft spot for Squid Game. After powering through the final two episodes, I can admit that the ending was worth a wait. There is still a heap number of questions still unanswered, and I am now more confused than before, but the very last scene gave us a key suggestion that there will be a second season. I am hopeful that I will find closure in the second series and will finally find out what the Hellbound is going on.