Netflix’s Hellbound (2021) – Review

Hellbound is Netflix’s gripping Korean drama that follows “angels” giving people “decrees” about when they will be taken to hell by giant supernatural beings.

Hellbound is so well received by the masses that even weeks after its release, it has secured a spot in the Top ten on the Global Netflix charts standing firm at number 3 this week (as the must-watch show deserves)!

Helmed by the Train to Busan director – Yeon Sang-ho, the six-episode series wastes no time in jumping into the premise and horrors of the show unfolding in Seoul, South Korea. Amongst other things, Hellbound highlights how misinformation can cause hysteria, panic, and a series of unfortunate events in this technologically-advanced world.

The drama begins with a group of young people watching a YouTube video by Jung Jin-soo (played by Yoo Ah-in). Jung is the supposed leader of a sect of the ‘New Truth’ that claims the creatures are “angels” acting on the will of God.

The group watches footage of giant ape-like figures beating a person to death while talking about the horrific incident before their eyes. Meanwhile, a man sits at a table staring at the clock on his phone – visibly worried and anxious. As the clock hits 1:20 PM on November 10, the man looks somewhat relieved but things change when we hear a rumble go through the city.

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Soon, the massive supernatural creatures from the video appear suddenly, bashing people and things out of their way while making their way towards the man who runs through the streets. However, that doesn’t stop the beasts, they catch up to him, bashing cars and buses in the traffic as the man runs between the small space among all the vehicles. They beat him senseless and before jumping back into their hellish realm they incinerate him in blinding flames leaving him in ashes and a skeleton.

This terrifying incident leaves us all shocked and immediately a police investigation is underway looking into the murder of the man who was brutally murdered in broad daylight. People caught wind of the incident as the witnesses and pedestrians recorded it on their phones and uploaded it to the Internet.

The series is based on a webtoon ‘The Hellbound’ and is a little slow-paced but it picks up making you wonder what happens next. The first three episodes of Hellbound see the group of people and the authorities tied to the mayhem make sense of the beasts and the killings. Detective Jin Kyung-hun (Yang Ik-June), a man mourning the murder of his wife is assigned this case. A case wherein human justice does not make a lot of sense – or that human beings feel helpless.

The New Truth is a cult that sees the murders by the creatures as a sign that humans are being punished by God. They believe that only “sinners” are being targeted, that humanity has strayed from God’s path, and that people should be more righteous – change before it is too late.

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This cult is headed by Jeong Jin-soo, an eerily fascinating yet handsome young man who offers a terrified single mother Park Jung-Ja (Kim Shin-rock) a payout for the first-ever live broadcast of the supernatural event – wherein she is doomed to damnation. Min Hye-jin (Kim Hyun-Joo) is an attorney hired to represent Park Jeong-Ja, to make sure her two children receive the money.

Kim Shin-rock delivers an outstanding performance making her scenes one of the best parts of the series even though they were heartbreaking to watch. All the actors did a great job portraying the characters that even create anxiety in the viewers but the CGI is a little shoddy.

Image via Indian Express

 

Hellbound in some ways can be relatable especially in the current state of life we are all in due to you know what. As many more people start receiving prophecies, the citizens of Seoul get more hysterical with no answers to their endless questions. With this grows the religious propaganda of the ‘New Truth’ as the people are presented with ostensible proof of a vindictive higher power that punishes the “sinners”.

From police procedural to social media outrage and media frenzy, in ‘Hellbound’ misinformation is spread like a wildfire, and the people who are inevitably vulnerable are manipulated. Making things worse than they already are – is an extremist faction of New Truth. They are called the ‘Arrowhead’ and one such example is a man named Dong-wook who wears a goat helmet and riles people online from a gaming chair, encouraging viewers to dox the “sinners” who received a decree and publicly shames them.

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What we can compare to Squid Game is how the VIPs in masks, onlookers, people streaming online, TV channels, all assemble to watch a woman die and eventually religious zealots use these “demonstrations” to their benefit. They are used to recruit more people which then goes to become a religion that “half of the world practices”.

The show then makes a time jump in the last three episodes wherein the New Truth and Arrowhead grow more powerful than ever. The world is divided into “sinners” and those who do not sin and regardless of what their “sin” or how serious their “crime” may have been that led to their murder, the people were made to believe the “sinners” deserved the pain and suffering.

So much so, that the “sinners” and their family members have to live with the stigma of having received a “decree” – their homes are thrashed and those that speak against these ideas too are beaten up. These “decrees” turn humans into monsters themselves, who commit crimes and are violent against another. We see VIPs or the wealthy/elite pay a hefty amount to watch a woman be murdered while others record every moment of it on their smartphones without a single person willing to help.

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Both viewers, the lawyers, the police, the people looking for answers regarding the ape-like giant creatures (also somewhat like the Hulk) in the show are left helpless but a shocking revelation in the season finale makes us hope for a second season and obviously some answers as well.

Hellbound does an excellent job of presenting the dystopian world in a very realistic way – a world very similar to ours. The mystery of the supernatural creatures remains a mystery and you can never be too sure which characters might return and which you’ll never see again. The growth of the New Truth can be clearly seen throughout the six episodes but you never really know how impactful they are worldwide which can be a little confusing despite the faceless mob that is ever-ready to commit acts of violence in the name of God after being manipulated.

The endlessly bleak show also has a little humor to it as the Chairman and other committee members scramble to protect its power when Bae Young‑Jae’s (Park Jung-min) newborn child receives a decree. New Truth and their extremist counterpart Arrowhead continue to dox the “sinners” and their family members, broadcast the “demonstrations” live, and capitalize off of the misery and pain of others while keeping an eye on the TRP.

Find ‘Hellbound’ on Netflix: HERE
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