So far as TV properties go, Hellbound has a fairly superior hook. The gist of the six-episode live-action Netflix sequence is as follows: What would occur if angels started showing, informing people that they’d die for his or her sins in just a few days, and when the time arrived, these individuals have been crushed to dying by hulking, smoking beasts?
That’s the precise situation that opens the sequence. As individuals drink in a espresso store on a random November day, a person stares anxiously at his cellphone. When the clock strikes the designated time, he panics, however when nothing occurs, he begins to chill out. Then, accompanied by a thunderous sound, three large creatures burst by way of the wall, pursue the person down a busy avenue and beat him to dying in entrance of a whole lot of onlookers. The entire thing is, naturally, captured on video, uploaded to social media and turns into a viral sensation.
As inciting incidents go, this opening sequence is nice: it’s thrilling, bewildering and surprisingly bloody. The reminiscence of the opener persists lengthy after the sequence settles right into a extra conventional crime drama for the remainder of the primary episode. At the same time as police start to research the unusual occasion, discovering ties to an insidious spiritual group referred to as New Fact and a second sufferer is warned of impending doom, the spectre of that preliminary assault looms massive.
The Korean drama was developed by author/director Yeon Sang-ho (Practice to Busan, Peninsula) and illustrator Choi Kyu-seok, who adapt from their very own webtoon, The Hell. The measured pacing of the early a part of Practice to Busan is on show right here, as Sang-ho privileges the introduction of his primary characters and delving into their backstories somewhat than hit audiences with a sequence of bombastic otherworldly motion sequences.
Followers of police procedurals will really feel very snug with Hellbound, whose lead is a brow-beaten detective, Jin Kyeong-hoon (Yang Ik-june). Jin remains to be recovering from the brutal homicide of his spouse and has a rocky relationship along with his teenage daughter, Hee-jeong (Lee Re) who has been secretly volunteering at New Fact. As Detective Jin begins to dig into the case, he crosses paths with Yoo Ah-in‘s Chairman Jeong Jin-soo (Burning, #Alive), the chief of the cult, which is devoted to spreading the gospel of the angels and inspiring residents to repent for his or her sins.
Chairman Jung is a perplexing character. Not solely is he very younger, however he’s additionally hardly the nefarious villain that we’re accustomed to seeing on this position. He lives a frugal life, he’s comparatively calm and quiet, however he has a strong depth and is unafraid of utilizing his deep pockets to realize what he desires. His motivations change into extra clear in episodes two and three as he engages first Hee-jeong, after which Detective Jin, in unsavory actions, however he’s nonetheless a little bit of a thriller by way of the three episodes made obtainable for evaluation.
The ultimate key member of the sequence is Min Hye-jin (Kim Hyun-joo), an lawyer who’s employed to symbolize the so-called sinners who’re focused by the avenging angels. That is the dominant storyline in episode two when the subsequent sufferer is publicly named on-line and Ms. Jungja Park, a single mom of two, is obtainable a $3 million yen pay-out by the New Fact to broadcast her “demonstration” (ie: dying) stay to the lots.
Whereas episode two options the least quantity of motion, it introduces quite a lot of complicated, murky ethical quandaries. Ms. Park’s “sin” (as revealed by Chairman Jung) is that she had two kids with two completely different males, a reality that’s introduced as a symptom of ethical decay by a web based shock jock host. This character is principally a riff on the hysterical, ill-informed media persona who wields large energy with zero accountability or journalistic integrity. This man even encourages his viewers to doxx Ms. Park and forestall Min Hye-jin from sending the 2 kids overseas, which she makes an attempt to do when it turns into clear that ethical and non secular hysteria is brewing. Regardless of the impressed costuming selection of placing this shock jock in neon apparel underneath black lights, the character is grating, partially as a result of he does little greater than scream and rant, but in addition as a result of this hyperbolic, unhinged character feels a bit of too actual for the present political second.
As Hellbound progresses, it’s clear Sang-ho and Kyu-seok are extra curious about interrogating the underlining points that will come up from the scenario somewhat than merely depict individuals being brutally murdered by monsters. There’s no scarcity of political scorching button matters being explored, together with for-profit faith, the general public urge for food for violence and the rise of hysterical puritanism. Alas not solely is that this rather a lot to cowl, by filtering these points by way of the lens of the detective and the lawyer, the message turns into muddled. That is most evident within the third episode when Detective Jin and Min Hye-jin are personally focused by the Arrowhead, a splinter cell of New Fact-ers who use violence to realize their targets.
All in all, Hellbound is an intriguing, albeit unfocused sequence with a strong hook. Whereas audiences on the lookout for a long-form spiritual horror present could also be underwhelmed, followers of supernatural-infused police procedurals will discover loads to understand.