TV review: Hellbound
I sense a decree coming.
Fans of the latest Netflix K-drama craze are likely to condemn me to hell, because at times the experience of watching Hellbound feels exactly like the title says.
Forgive me for not fawning, but this supernatural dark fantasy is far from being what some have billed "the next Squid Game", even though it did surpass the latter as the most popular show on Netflix on its initial Nov 19 release.
An "angel of doom" visits certain individuals to prophesy their time of death, followed by a trio of otherworldly beasts materialising at said hour to send them to hell.
This phenomenon of "demonstrations" of the wrath of God gives rise to an influential religious cult called The New Truth founded on the idea of divine justice, with a shady leader (Yoo Ah-in) who preaches righteousness and weaponises the belief that only sinners are targeted.
The first three episodes centre on a police detective (Yang Ik-june) who investigates the group, while the remaining three episodes take place years later and focuses on a TV producer (Park Jeong-min) whose newborn baby is hellbound.
Admittedly, the first "demonstration" that kicks off the series is a gory shock to the system, but it turns absurdly repetitive.
Like Squid Game, Hellbound - directed by Yeon Sang-ho based on his webtoon of the same name - is highly bingeable because of the mystery and suspense built into watching a massive group of people struggle with the inexplicable.
It aims to say something important about the nature of sin and shame, crime and punishment, free will and God's will.
But such attempts are often cancelled out by confounding logical flaws and plot distractions.
Then we are subjected to a regular segment featuring the world's most irritating live streamer (Kim Do-yoon), who goes on decibel-defying, direct-to-camera rants as a member of Arrowhead, a radical QAnon-like following inspired by the New Truth.
At this rate, any respite from some of Hellbound's torturous elements is heaven sent. - JEANMARIE TAN