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Critics Review
Hellbound series review: Drama shows a mirror to society and instils fear of damnation

The Netflix series is an eye-opener. It shows the harsh reality of society today. The entire series is based on two emotions - fear and shame. It depicts how humans fear death and it is the only thing probably that can set humans free of sins as said in the series by the New Truth chairman Jung. 

4.0
Akhila Damodaran
Nov 19, 2021
cover image
Hellbound

Story:

The fantasy drama is directed by Yeon Sang-ho, based on his webtoon of the same title. It stars Yoo Ah-in, Kim Hyun-joo, Park Jeong-min, Won Jin-ah and Yang Ik-june, among others. The story follows a police officer on a hunt to bust the criminal mindsets of the religious organisation New Truth as supernatural creatures who suddenly get on Earth to take humans to Hell.  

Review:

The series is a recommended watch. The first episode opens with Jung, the chairman of an emerging religious organisation The New Truth warning people to get on the path of righteousness or face the wrath of God. As the people watch him online, they do not take him seriously, thinking he is a conman, until they witness some supernatural creatures barging into a cafe and chasing a man to burn him dead out of nowhere. The scene sends chills down your spine as these creatures get ruthless and toss the person around. 

The pattern of these supernatural creatures is to send 'Angels of death' to give a decree or a prophecy. The supernatural beings then descend on earth and take the person down to hell. It then shows the next victim Park Jungja who receives a decree on her birthday as her 13-year-old son records the celebration. She then decides to approach The New Truth Organisation, a religious group that gains lots of followers after the sudden outbreak of supernatural beings, who offer to pay her a huge sum of money if she lets them broadcast the 'damnation' or what they call 'demonstration' live. 

A poor single mother, she decides to agree thinking that the money would help secure the future of her young children. She reaches out to a popular lawyer (Kim Hyun-joo) who calls the investigating officer Jin (Yang Ik-June). The VIP members of the religious organisation attend the 'demonstration' along with hundreds of people who gather to witness the event. The event is also broadcast live by every TV station. The scene irks as you witness how inhuman people can get as they show such great interest in witnessing a person's death who has been labelled a criminal without even any verification as the religious group spreads the fear that only sinners will be taken to hell. The scene makes you wish if the tables had turned the other side with all onlookers being taken away and the mother being spared. The sins of Jungja are not revealed and you just feel sorry for her.    

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A still from Hellbound

The series shows close-up shots of charred and broken bodies (trigger warning) which looks gory and makes you nauseous. These killing scenes and aftermath with shots of dead bodies are not for faint-hearted. The motive of the religious group is brought forth as the lawyer and police officer dig deeper but they struggle to fight and prove to their blind followers.   

The first half of the series is more gripping than the second, especially if you choose to binge-watch it. Each episode of almost an hour duration can get exhausting especially when it involves scenes of such excruciating pain and agony. 

But the series has several twists which keep you engaged. As you think that the series has come to an end with three episodes, it develops a new plotline with a complete twist. The second half follows a TV producer who hates the religious groups but feels helpless when his one-week-old baby receives a decree. The entire doctrine of The New Truth is challenged and as the group learns that a newborn has received a decree, they attack the parents and the baby. They fear that people would learn their truth if the news of the baby gets out. It ends (spoiler alert) with people finally learning the truth about them and the charred body of Jungju which was exhibited by them coming back to life. 

The series has several loose ends and leaves you with many questions, already hinting at season 2. It does not reveal the reason behind the supernatural beings suddenly killing people, both sinners and innocents. The countdown for each person differs too, with time being as short as 10 seconds.   

The series is well-paced. The special effects are commendable as the supernatural beings look very real. The twists in the story and new plotlines now and then keep you hooked. It shows a mirror to society and seems relatable especially considering the current situations in the country and the world. It shows how certain religious groups con people who follow them blindly. It takes complete advantage of God-fearing people. 

The highlight of the series is how it has set the story entirely based on two emotions - fear and shame. It depicts how humans fear death and it is the only thing probably that can set humans free of sins as said in the series by the New Truth chairman Jung.

Verdict:

The six-episode series is a recommended watch as it shows a mirror to society about the inhuman actions of the inhabitants of the earth and how certain religious organisations take advantage of humans who follow them blindly in the name of God. It shows how people consider themselves God or messengers of God and look down on others. It is relevant, relatable and gripping.


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