‘Hellbound’: Fate or something more
Rachel Hartmann | Wednesday, December 1, 2021
In “Hellbound,” the world is thrown into chaos when huge, terrifying demons appear and drag sinners to hell. These demons appear on the date and time specified by a mythical creature who appeared to the sinners before. As these demons appear more and more, religious extremism grows as individuals call these events the will of God.
The show opens with a group of teenagers watching a video of the religious cult leader of the New Truth Society, Jeong Jin-soo (Yoo Ah-in), which claims the demons are the work of God and shows the demons beating a man to the pulp.
A man nearby stares at the clock and as it strikes 1:20 p.m., the demons appear and charge at him. People around the area scramble for cover as the demons tear apart the cafe and attack the man witgch viciousness. It is bloody, horrific and terrifying as we watch the man try to escape the three demons before they send him to “hell” with a bright light.
Created by Yeon Sang-ho (“Train to Busan”) and based on the Webtoon of the same name, this horror-thriller follows those who oppose the religious cult and are trying to get to the truth behind the demons, like police detective Jin Kyeong-hoon (Yang Ik-june). As we watch the world grapple with the supernatural, we too wonder what would happen if demons suddenly came and started violently dragging people to hell. Would we too rely on our religious faiths to explain the situation, claiming that all the people are sinners who got what they deserved? Or would we fight against the supernatural to figure out what is really going on?
“Hellbound” is a social commentary on religious extremism as well as on what humans do in the face of the unknown. In just six episodes, we watch society fall apart as it confronts the supernatural. These bloody, horrifiic and somewhat cartoonish creatures are imbued with spiritual meaning — without any proof that this is the case — and are accepted as the natural work of a higher being. Humans like to believe that only bad people would be sent to hell, so they try to logically explain this phenomenon. Thus, the doctrine proposed by extremist groups such the New Truth and perpetuated by militant groups like the Arrowheads is accepted and held as fact. In a sense, it is a criticism of the manipulation of people by organized religions, as well as how extreme religious zeal can get.
For me, I found it hard to watch “Hellbound” at many moments. It was very graphic and violent, qualities I do not tend to enjoy. I did, however, find myself deeply contemplating the social commentary the show provides and watching more to see what would happen next. I was thoroughly disgusted by both the supernatural and human characteristics in the show, but that was the point. At times, I also found it hard to keep up with all the different characters and the smaller plot lines.
However, the director did a great job of keeping the show fast paced and keeping us on our toes. I never knew what was going to happen next, as there were many twists and turns. You should definitely watch this show if you are into dark fantasies which are gripping, violent and binge-worthy.
Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Yang Ik-june, Kim Hyun-joo
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
If you liked: “Squid Game,” “Sweet Home,” “Train to Busan”
Shamrocks: 3.5 out of 5