I’ve been looking forward to this for a few months now, and Hellbound has finally arrived on Netflix. Does this South Korean supernatural thriller live up to my height?
Hellbound (2021) Series Review
Unbelievable demonstrations of hell take place in the middle of Seoul, right in front of crowds were mysterious beings condemn individuals to be Hellbound, and otherworldly beings appear exactly at the specified time to kill the condemned in a brutal burning.
An up and coming from religious organization claims that only sinners are marked for condemnation and that these occurrences represent the divine will to make humans righteous.
And as another zealous group takes the punishment of those who go against the divine will into their own hands, the world becomes a living hell.
So this first season is broken up into two parts. I mean, they’re the same story, but there’s a time jump in the middle.
I love how the story begins with a short explanation of the concept for the narrative and then gives us a pretty exciting sequence with action and violence.
Now this helps to establish what we can expect, along with some quick context. And then the story steps back to build out the story from there.
The plot follows a Detective, a lawyer, and a religious icon. As these demonstrations of condemnation begin to happen more frequently.
And the way it works is that a person receives just some crazy vision from this floating face, announcing exactly when that person is going to die.
When that time arrives, these three hell beasts appear and delivers just some crazy brutality to the condemned before then burning them to a crisp and supposedly sending their soul to hell.
The beasts and I don’t know if they’re actually beasts. I mean, they might be demons or whatever, but they look pretty cool. They look like they’re made of just pure muscle, all sinewy with just this pulsing effect to them.
They’re dark grayish and are massive, and they’re also relentless in their mission. I like the fact that the world around can see these and not just the condemned. So it creates all kinds of chaos and horror for the bystanders.
Now, as cool as the creatures did look, their CGI wasn’t flawless. There were portions to them that stood out as computer generated, but on the whole, they were menacing, and they produced just the right amount of dread.
I wasn’t ever scared of them, but there were some times where I was fearful for the condemned because once these things arrive, they are merciless.
I also love this thud sound that announces the arrival of the hellbeasts. It’s subtle, but it’s commanding and unmistakable. It’s kind of like a deep bass note that just resonates through everything, creating ominous dread for the ones that they’re after.
Now, like I briefly mentioned, the story has a large religious overtone to it, and while at points it felt like the story was questioning organized religions, I felt that this was more of a social commentary about how people use and then pervert religion more than anything.
We see so many examples within this, how this group called The New Truth starts off a small in size and influence, and how they use social media, the news, and then word of mouth to organically grow to something that is utterly powerful.
The story, pointedly and maybe a little too obviously, sometimes illustrates the greed that The New Truth utilizes in order to grow but will also hide anything that could be perceived as negative or counter to their message.
And this mirrors so closely so many organizations, I mean, religious or not, and it really mimics just human nature. I would have preferred a little more subtlety in some of the commentaries, but I also understand that certain points have to be very obvious so that they’re not missed.
There’s also a really well-executed commentary about reactive culture and how social media is used to build up or condemn people based on the suppositions of one influencer, which then gains a lot of traction and spreads.
The way the show illustrates this is eye-catching and relatable because most of us have probably seen some example like this on YouTube. I mean, not necessarily in the same costuming and look, but certainly in the delivery and the sentiment.
I like how the subject hides behind a costume when delivering the condemnation of others that they disagree with, pointing to the anonymity that so many in our real-world use when bashing others online.
I really enjoyed the actors because they all at one point or another, get to be jealous about something. I mean, this could be about a belief over a position or even about family, and the actors show their passions in very visceral ways.
And while some of them could be classified as over the top in almost all of these circumstances, it’s warranted. I had said how this is really a two-part season, and it’s split in half by a fairly ill-defined time jump.
And the first portion reaches an exciting climax, and then when the next episode begins, we can tell that some time has passed, but it’s not overly clear at how long and later in the show. I did find out that it was like a four or a five-year jump.
And this doesn’t really affect my feeling on the show, but I think it would have been nicer to know exactly how much time had passed.
When the second part begins, we’re introduced to some new players now living in a world where the New truth is more influential.
The demonstrations of condemnation are still happening, but a new complication to the story is introduced, which was great in its emotional pull.
Now, something I didn’t like, though, in this time jump is that certain characters just leave the show without explanation or revisiting them. It felt abrupt to have people that we were following no longer involved.
I felt almost duped in a way because I made connections with some of these characters, and now I no longer get to follow them.
Most of the cinematography was fine, but I mean, nothing that stood out to me is just absolutely spectacular, but there was an extremely awesome action sequence.
And I think it’s episode five with some wonderful camera work where we follow this crazy fight scene through multiple areas of a building and then we even go through a window to the ground below and the camera follows the entire chase, I thought it was a lot of fun.
Attention and urgency towards the end really had me gripped too. I was never nervous for the outcome, and although it was twisted and dark, I was rooting for the bad guys to fail because of what it would mean for the story as a whole.
But in rooting for the bad guys to fail. That meant I was also hoping for a terrible outcome for another person, and I liked that internal conflict that it created for me.
This is an easy binge at only six episodes and each of them is around 50 minutes in length. I was sucked into the mystery and then the emotional drama and intrigue pretty much the whole time.
And what made this especially engaging was the friction that was caused between parties. I do think that some of the characters were oversimplified, especially for those that were in the new truth.
I mean, I get their motivation of power and control, but at some point, they just came across as generic villains.
And something I wasn’t totally ready for, especially in the first portion of the story was the amount of brutality that’s displayed, and I’m not talking about the violence inflicted by the hellbest.
I mean, that I did expect it was the depravity of some that caught me off guard, especially as they begin to be indiscriminate in their victims.
So overall, Hellbound is an exciting and dark social commentary using religious fervor as its catalyst, the series effectively shows us the dangers of Zealous groupthink and calls out the condemning internet culture that uses anonymity to bash others.
The beasts are creative and will not be flawless in their presentation. They still look menacing.
The pace of the show is good, but the ill-defined time jump in the middle, along with the disappearance of certain characters, was a distraction. As the story transitioned its narrative.
I’m excited about where this left off and what the end could mean for subsequent storylines. There’s no sex, maybe some very brief nudity, a bunch of profanity, and then a ton of brutal violence.
So I am going to give Hellbound a B.
I’d love to hear what you thought about this series. Let me know some things in the comments below.
Guys thank you so much as always for reading the review of Hellbound (2021). See you next time with another review.
Hellbound (2021) Trailer
Check out the trailer of the new Crime, Drama, Fantasy Netflix Series Hellbound (Jiok).