HellBound Review: ‘The Day God Demonstrated Hell’, A Spine Chilling K-drama
The rise in popularity of Korean series and movies is evident and soaring. The following humongous lives for the rom-com and city views with the dreamy storylines a Korean show has to offer. Recently the Korean drama industry has been hitting us with shows with the most original and exciting plots.
The mega streaming service netflix has taken a step ahead and produced multiple originals. One such show that took every viewer’s breath away was Hellbound, released on November 19, 2021.
Premised on his very own webtoon of the same name, Hellbound is a South Korean supernatural horror streaming television series directed and produced by Yeon Sang-ho. In an exclusive netflix production, otherworldly entities arrive out of nowhere to sentence individuals to Hell in the then-upcoming year of 2022. The program headliners are Yoo Ah-in, Kim Hyun-Joo, Park Jeong-min, Won Jin-ah, and Yang Ik-June.
The very first three episodes of the series were shown on September 9, 2021, in the “Primetime” segment of the Toronto International Film Festival, where it made its global debut, becoming the first Korean drama to premiere there. The first three episodes also were shown in the newly established “On Screen” segment of the 26th Busan International Film Festival on October 7, 2021, and in the “Thrill” part of the 65th BFI London Film Festival on October 15, 2021.
In the week ending November 28, 2021, Hellbound ranked second on the World Best ten weekly list among the most viewed TV series, with 67.52 million streaming hours (non-English).
Hellbound received 43.48 million streaming hours in the first three days after release and won the title of “netflix worldwide TOP 10 TV (non-English). Overall, 59 countries included it on their “TOP 10” lists, but only 12 of them gave it the top slot. The quickest pace for a Korean series which are available on netflix at the moment.
At the time of its original release, it eclipsed fellow netflix-produced Korean drama Squid Game in popularity. For all kdrama fanatics, this parameter is enough to quantify just how trendy Hellbound was during its release.
- Release Date – November 19, 2021
- Genre -Dark fantasy, Drama thriller
- Where To Watch – netflix
- Directed by – Yeon Sang-ho
- Starring- Yoo Ah-in, Kim Hyun-Joo, Park Jeong-min, Won Jin-ah, Yang Ik-Jun
- No. of episodes – 6
- Our Rating: 4/5
A day that began ordinarily swiftly turned into people’s worst nightmare. The episode starts with a basic cafe setting. Baristas accepting orders, youngsters gossiping or studying, and then the focus shifts as soon as the camera pans to what’s playing on the TV. The show gets straight to the heart of the story within the first minute of the episode.
A broadcast is playing, where a seemingly well-rounded individual is addressing a decent group, mostly attended by students. The discussion is regarding ‘the new truth.’ This is Yoo Ah-in as Jeong Jin-soo, a cult leader of the emerging New Truth Society. He candidly talks about sinners and criminals who will face divine retribution.
He claimed that an angel would manifest and depart a date and time by which god’s executioners would show up to kill the person and bind them to Hell. It’s not all words and vision because he had video and photographic evidence with witnesses. At that time, it had occurred in Japan and other countries, but South Korea had not experienced such an incident yet.
This caused fear among people, and his cult grew with firm believers. A group of college students hanging out in the cafe was a mix of skeptics and believers. Suddenly, the camera pans to a man, shabbily dressed and sweating with fear staring at his phone.
We see the date November 10, 01:20 pm, and loud thuds are heard across the entire city. As the whole town went silent, barged 3 humongous supernatural creatures, all black and deathly, didn’t spare a second to beat up and tear apart that man. With zero warning and extreme brutality, they burned him to crisps with only ash remaining and disappeared into thin air.
This increased the popularity and credibility of the cult leader Jin-soo. The internet trended with ‘Jung Jin Soo,’ ‘the new truth’ worrying the police of the jurisdiction.
On the other hand, a malicious live streamer disguised eccentrically aggravated people against criminals or people who spoke against the ‘new truth’ by releasing their info and punishing them with the help of delinquents. This group was called the Arrowhead. Both the cult and Arrowhead were raising a ruckus, and the cops were exasperated.
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It Only Gets Worse And Darker From Here On!
Jin Kyeong-hoon, a detective, has been through Hell due to the horrid murder of his wife. Losing his spouse was already painful enough, and the murderer got bail from jail 4 years prior to the end of his 10 years sentence, which made him numb to life.
He’s back to work and completely questions the legitimacy of the new truth. To his dismay, his daughter not only believed in it but actively took part by volunteering for the cult. He had no idea how involved she was and blamed his bad parenting.
A lecturer is beaten badly by minors from the Arrowhead organization as he spoke ill of the new truth. His case is taken up by Kim Hyun-Joo as Min Hye-jin, an attorney who’s in deep with violent cases related to Arrowhead.
Later on, a single mother of two receives a death decree from an angel on her birthday in front of both her children, who’re 13 and 6 years old. She runs for help and is offered 3 billion won for the right to broadcast her demonstration/death by the heavenly executioner from Jin-soo, and she’s tempted.
For better support, she consults Min Hye-jin’s firm so they make sure that after her death, the kids get the money and safely relocate. Min Hye-jin is hesitant but persuaded. The decree given to her said she would be bound to Hell 5 days from now at 3 pm. Min Hye-jin also gets the police involved.
Jin-soo secretly met Jin Kyeong-hoon’s daughter, emotionally manipulated her, and promised to create a world where nobody sins. Takes her to murder the killer of her mother behind Jin Kyeong-hoon’s back.
Meanwhile, the day of the demonstration is getting closer. Arrowhead has exposed the identity of Park Jeong-ja, the single mother subject to the first public demonstration, and her children. Fearing Arrowhead would harm the children, the attorney quickly drives to the airport and successfully sends them to Canada.
As the demonstration day arrived, Park Jeong-ja was disheartened and exhausted from all the protestors shouting slurs and insults outside her house. The broadcasters are tearing up her house so that the Public can witness her death.
On that eventful day, the entire town was counting down, big media houses were broadcasting it live, and VIPs entered with their faces covered. The Public speculated her sins to be adultery. She sat in a chair, and the clock hit 3 PM, and people got the show they wanted. She was executed brutally and burnt to a crisp, just like everyone else who got the decree.
The attorney and detective both were shocked and petrified at the same time. The entire country is against them. Jin-soo became the most important man in Korea overnight. The attorney, scared for her and her sickly mother’s life, ran back home to pack their bags and leave Korea for good. However, Arrowhead caught her in the basement of her building.
Her mother was alone in the car waiting, and suddenly delinquents showed up on bikes. Surrounded the car, forced the old lady out of the car and gruesomely assaulted her, and then did the same to the attorney. This scene was recorded and published on SNS proudly by Arrowhead.
The video was seen by everyone in the city. She rushed her mother to the hospital and soon enough realized all the people present had seen what had happened. Her mother took final breaths in that hospital.
The attorney had now lost it all. She recalled talking to a priest to whom Jin Soo had confessed his decree. Next, she visited him. The priest lived in a decapitated house but invited her with a warm heart. As requested by her, the priest played the audio recording of Jinsoo’s confession.
She told the priest to let her expose the audio, and this is where the true face of the priest was revealed. The cult leader knew about the recording and had made a deal with the priest. In return for keeping this a secret, the priest would be, made the chairman of the biggest religious organization of the new truth.
The cult leader had foreseen this coming and had instructed the priest to kill the attorney to win his trust. A large group of gangsters was waiting outside his home to murder the attorney on his command. They beat her up and threw her on a river bank, but she somehow survived.
On the other hand, the detective and cult leader is in a face-off. The detective is aggravated since Jinsoo used his daughter and turned her into a murder accomplice. This is where the twists started. The cult leader had been given a death decree 20 years ago. He was then executed and burnt to pieces, just like the others in front of the detective.
The Public began living in fear day by day. They were scared to sin and be condemned. The new chairman started advertising as a savior demanding people live righteously. Sinners weren’t shown a spec of pity. People were afraid to repost Arrowhead’s crimes.
This was not the end because Arrowhead had turned into a massive, secretive, powerful, influential, and filthy rich legit organization. A new storyline starts when Park Jeong-min as Bae Young-Jae, a production director for a broadcasting station, is worried about his colleague who has not arrived home.
He then somehow traces his location to a secluded river bank. He’s stopped by the watch guards of Arrowhead, who have more control than the police. Eventually, he reached the exact location only to find his colleague missing from his car.
He looked around a little and found his friend sitting alone. His friend ran away into the water, telling him to leave him alone. It’s because he had received the death decree and did not want it to be witnessed by anyone. He didn’t want his family to be tortured due to being related to a sinner.
Right in front of Bae Young-jae’s eyes, bubbles started to rise, and thuds could be heard. Bae Yong-Jae, until that moment, was a skeptic. The mythical creatures jumped out of the water and executed his colleague underwater.
Right after the demonstration, three vans show up. People stepped out to clean up, and the attorney was one of them. She had started a secret organization that helped people die in peace. Bae Yong-Jae was hurt and extremely shocked. They asked him not to investigate further for his own safety.
The real drama starts when a newborn baby receives a death decree. The baby belongs to Bae Yong-Jae. When he returned the next day, his wife showed him the video as she had witnessed the mythical angel delivering the death decree before they even had a chance to leave the hospital and start their life as a family.
The parents were flabbergasted and helpless. When Arrowhead found out that a baby had received a death decree, they wanted to use that to empower their organization. They couldn’t believe their newborn was bound to Hell and would be killed miserably. And went through many trials and pain to save the child by becoming its shield when the decree’s time came.
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The show Hellbound is outstanding and chillingly entertaining. You would not want to blink and miss. The writing is well-rounded and makes you place yourself in the character’s shoes. All the actors gave their best performance to bring alive their roles effortlessly.
From the very first 15 seconds, VFX and cinematography exceed expectations. Most importantly, it’s a show that makes you want another season without delay. The direction really brought multiple elements together. The visual experience overall is highly impressive. The show doesn’t lack anything.
The show is different from others of this genre because the hysteria personified in the show due to sheep thinking and religion-borne fear is parallel to real-life problems of our world. The story is scary because it won’t take much to create similar disharmony in the real world.
The show Hellbound is about divine retribution vs. humans will power to do the righteous thing. It’s an emotional roller coaster, and I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
Our Rating: 4/5.
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