Hellbound is a South Korean dark horror fantasy streaming television series directed by Yeon Sang-ho, based on his own webtoon of the same name. Yeon, of course, is the film-maker behind the hit zombie flick Train to Busan and its sequel, Peninsula. Consisting of six episodes, season 1 introduces viewers to the basic premise of Hellbound, and the several characters caught up in its events.
Hellbound is a story about otherworldly demonic creatures who appear out of nowhere to issue a decree and condemn individuals to hell. These supernatural events cause great mayhem and enable the religious group The New Truth to grow in influence. There are, however, some people who become suspicious about its activities and begin investigating its involvement in these mysterious events. (Adapted from IMDB)
The main strength of this series is its writing – the plot and characterisations are well developed despite its fantastical scenarios. Similar to Midnight Mass, the series taps into religious beliefs but expands its thematic reach to include issues of public shaming, social media commentary and the corruption of power and influence. Director Yeon and writer Choi Kyu-sok should be congratulated for this engaging and thought-provoking series.
The secret behind its success is the ability of the series to keep the events – as fantastical as they are – personal to the various characters as possible. The stakes are always viscerally close to the bone. And the audience cannot help but be drawn into the fates of these characters – rooting for the ‘heroes’ and booing the ‘villains’. Yes, it’s fundamentally a tale of good and evil but the series questions our very conception of good and evil in a way that rings true especially in contemporary times.
While the background behind the fantastical events seems unsatisfactorily expounded on in the series, the twist in the very end suggests that more will be revealed in a second season. Looking forward. Highly recommended!
Now streaming on Netflix.
… still there’s more …