This show is an exciting blend of horror, comedy, and drama.
Note: This review contains mentions of violence and Hell
Despite promises of monsters, prophesied deaths, and creepy cults taking over an entire society, Netflix's "Hellbound" is anything but a typical horror series. Beneath the layers of needlessly violent deaths and hulking monsters trampling everything in their way, "Hellbound" explores just how easily a cult can rise in power during times of hysteria— and just how easily humans shun victims (whether of the monsters or of the cult) out of fear of becoming victims themselves.
Based off of Yeong Sang-ho's webcomic of the same name, the story takes place in Seoul, South Korea where people have begun receiving declarations of their times of death and upcoming journey to Hell, referred to as a "decree.” People may receive their decree years or seconds before their given time of death, and once that time comes, they are incinerated by supernatural creatures that appear out of thin air.
The first three episodes of the show follow Jin Kyung-hoon (Yang Ik-june), a detective tasked with unveiling the mystery behind these supernatural creatures. As Kyung-hoon struggles with his impossible task, a cult, known as the "New Truth Society", rises to power. Led by Jeong Jin-soo (Yoo Ah-in), the "New Truth Society" claims that the death decrees and supernatural creatures are warnings from God that all humans must begin living more "righteous" lives.
This first part of the show, consisting of three episodes, can be chaotic at times. It introduces a multitude of characters and storylines, and while they all tie together in the end, some characters and plotlines feel underdeveloped. For example, Hong Eun-pyo (Park Jung-pyo), a member of the police force who pairs up with Kyung-hoon to investigate the monsters, is unassuming at first but soon becomes vital for the development of the plot. However, his motivations are only briefly touched upon— although more explanations for this side character's motivations may not be necessary, it certainly would have been interesting.
Despite being chaotic at times, the first half of the show is well-paced and does an excellent job of showing how the New Truth Society gains power, smoothly leading the show into the next part. Additionally, the first part of the show demonstrates just how cruel society can be to those that don't conform to an accepted belief.
The last three episodes of the show take place a few years later, where the New Truth Society has gained so much popularity and power that it is almost part of the government. The second part of the show contains more light-hearted and comedic moments than the first, while still addressing more serious themes, such as the detrimental effects the New Truth cult has on society.
Kim Jeong-chil (Lee Dong-hee) is the new leader of the New Truth Society. Along with a committee of New Truth Society members, he serves mainly as comedic relief through his clear inability to lead a cult. However, the cult definitely does not regress into being just comedic relief. The members of the committee are shown multiple times to not believe in their own teachings, but they are willing to deceive others in order to maintain the level of power and fame they hold. The extent of the cult's power becomes the true element of horror in this show— the cult leaders are able to enforce the most ridiculous rules through violence with no repercussions.
Although the show is exciting and fast-paced, a downside is the lack of explanation for any of the supernatural occurrences. Very few answers to the questions from the first three episodes are provided in the last three episodes. In fact, a few plot twists in the last episode raise even more questions. However, the show's strengths outweigh its flaws by far, and "Hellbound" is definitely a show worth watching.
"Hellbound" is rated TV-MA for strong language and violence and is now available on Netflix
Kathereen Yang. hi! My name is Kathereen and I'm a junior writer. I enjoy reading and running, and I'm currently trying to figure out how to make pizza (without burning it). More »