Lately, Netflix has been the place to go to find binge-worthy series from Korea, with Kingdom, My Name, and – of course – Squid Game being just some examples of the assortment of high-calibre shows on offer. And Hellbound (based on the web comic of the same name) looks to be no different.
Created and co-written by Train to Busan’s Sang-ho Yeon, and starring Yoo Ah-in of Burning fame, this newest series is a tightly paced thriller that throws viewers straight into its uniquely imaginative premise. As explained via a news broadcast in the opening scene, people are being told by a supernatural presence the exact time they will die and be condemned to hell. Moments later, a group of shadowy, ape-like monstrosities arrive and pursue a man anxiously watching the time on his phone. The creatures quickly catch up to their target, violently maim him, and burn his body to a crisp as his soul is presumably transported to hell. The death leads to a police investigation surrounding a new religious movement who believe these strange occurrences are evidence of God punishing sinners.
From herein, Hellbound expands into a thoughtful and engaging series that taps into themes of justice and fanaticism to give more weight to its already captivating premise. Fronting the series is Yang Ik-june as a weary-eyed detective who’s flung into the chaos as it develops. His fractured relationship with his daughter and jaded outlook (though clichéd characteristics) make for an interesting lead with a meaningful connection to the investigation. He’s joined by Kim Hyun-joo as a lawyer caught up in the ensuing events; but it’s Ah-in who steals the spotlight as soft-spoken cult leader Jeong Jin-Soo. Skilfully walking the line between menacing and charming, this charismatic figure has everything needed to become a memorable antagonist.
After two episodes into this six-part series, Hellbound has done a wonderful job in establishing the wider and weirder mystery to come. Tantalising cliffhanger endings will likewise keep viewers glued to their sofas one episode at a time, meaning this show could easily be watched in a single weekend. This series may not grab the world’s attention in the same way as Squid Game, but it has the talent and creativity behind it make it worth not missing out on.
Hellbound is released on Netflix on 19th November 2021.
Watch the trailer for Hellbound here: