It’s no secret that Netflix has been spending big bucks for its original shows and movies as of late. The streaming giant’s recent projects have their fair share of hits and misses, but we can’t deny that their Kdrama originals are doing great. The latest addition to Netflix’s Kdrama originals is Hellbound, which is the focal point of this review.
Following a string of strong Netflix Kdrama originals like Kingdom, Squid Game, and My Name, Hellbound is also a social commentary TV series like the other three but explores the concept with religious cults and fanaticism. With Netflix’s latest KDrama original revolving around a concept that can be potentially controversial in countries like the Philippines, is Hellbound worth the binge?
Hellbound Review: Spoiler Warnings
A big chunk of this review will focus on the first three episodes (aka the first part), specifically on how Jeong Jin-soo (Yoo Ah-in) established the New Truth Society, and how the Arrowhead plays a role in the New Truth’s goals towards establishing a supposed divine damnation against the sinners of society in the perspective of member Lee Dong-Wook (Kim Do-Yoon).
The review will also tackle parts of Park Jeong-Ja’s story (played by Kim Shin-Rok) and the importance of Min Hye-Jin (Kim Hyun-Joo) for both parts of Hellbound.
What makes the plot of Hellbound interesting is how it blends in drama, crime, and science fiction with elements of religious fanaticism to deliver a story that is bent on provoking cults and religious fanaticism. The depiction of the New Truth Society reminded me of the Pharisees in the Bible, where they try to be righteous by invoking fear and intimidation.
The public demonstrations in Hellbound, specifically the one where Park Jeong-Ja was condemned to hell for what appears to be adultery, are science fiction versions of the Pharisees and Scribes throwing stones at an adulterous woman-only to be intercepted by Jesus. In Hellbound‘s version, the stone-throwers are depicted as supernatural beings that beat up the sinner and burn them to death.
The concept of religious fanaticism goes beyond the New Truth Society, as the Arrowhead are depicted as anarchists who believe that that message the New Truth delivers is deemed as a message from God. Towards the end of episode 6, all of what the New Truth and Arrowhead are pushing to their followers become irrelevant with the series of events that occurred, including the very, very surprising resurrection of a sinner who was condemned to hell.
The rebellious nature of Min Hye-Jin throughout the whole series plays an essential role in outing the loopholes of the doctrines being upheld by both the New Truth and Arrowhead. While there is no definite protagonist in Hellbound, Min Hye-Jin appears to be THE protagonist of the series, as she saw the different sides of society. On top of that, she was keen enough to find out more about the mysterious supernatural beings that have been killing sinners and condemning them to hell.
Another big hit from Yeon Sang-ho
Aside from being a Netflix original, Hellbound has its own share of fame as it is made by Yeon Sang-ho, who is best known for Train to Busan and Peninsula. Having watched both movies in the past, the special effects used on Hellbound–including the rather mysterious origins of the supernatural beings–are something that is a staple in Yeong Sang-Ho’s works. The mystery does not stop there, as a staple Yeong Sang-Ho style is evident with how episode 6 of Hellbound ended.
With Gong Hyeong-Joon (Im Hyeong-Guk) saying “just like an earthquake or any other natural disaster, it can happen to any one of us. It’s not about punishing or being punished,” this makes the whole plot of Hellbound mysterious and less predictable, leaving the audience glued to their seats. It’s also nice how Yeon Sang-Ho approached the six-episode TV series by dividing it into two arcs to balance out both the back story and the main plot of Hellbound.
Season 2 is definitely inevitable
With how big of a cliffhanger the end of episode 6 was, everyone (myself included) was scratching our heads as to why the ending went for that route, leaving the audience with a ton of questions beyond the legitimacy of the New Truth as a society that claims to be messengers of God and the true nature of the supernatural beings. Yeon Sang-Ho himself said in an interview that a season 2 is inevitable, though there are no specific plans yet for a follow-up to the current storyline of Hellbound.
Given the immense success of Hellbound in Netflix, garnering 48 million hours of views on the first day (the equally viral Squid Game did 30 million hours of views within the first day), we expect Netflix to give Hellbound a much-deserved second season–just like what it recently did with Arcane.
Hellbound Review Verdict
2021 is a good, good year for Netflix when it comes to their line of original KDrama shows, and Hellbound is the streaming platform’s third big hit (next to Squid Game and My Name). All of Netflix’s original KDrama shows have an X-factor, and Hellbound‘s own X-factor is how it provokes religion in a genre that fuses drama, thriller, and science fiction.
Given how much of a cliffhanger the end of episode 6 watch, I expect the second season of Hellbound to be as exciting as the first season.