~Warning: Mild Spoilers are in this review!~
If you have been surfing on your Netflix account, you have probably seen Hellbound in the top ten sections or under new releases. Hellbound is a live-action adaptation of a webcomic, one I have read before watching this series.
Similar to Squid Game, Hellbound focuses on different aspects of society and exaggerates them to make its important point. Squid Game spotlighted money and status to show how it influences our lives and how we treat each other. The series held a magnifying glass on our inherited meritocracy-based society and revealed the ugly truth of it.
Hellbound’s creators Yang Sang-Ho and Choi Gyu-Seok use the social construct of religion to expose its power and how it is often misused. In Hellbound, an “angel,” comes to an individual and lets them know the exact date and time they are going to die. If that wasn’t bad enough, the “angel” informs the now frightened person they are bound for hell. Get it? It’s the name of the show. The “angel” is very specific with the dates and times so no one person has the exact time of death. When your death day comes, 3-4 hulk-like creatures beat the breaks off you before incinerating you.
The violence in Hellbound makes the deaths in Squid Game seem merciful. As the “reapers” take their jobs seriously and will Bautista bomb the elderly, women, men, teens, without a second thought. And if you do happen to be in the vicinity as the “damned” you could suffer damage to your property, your car, your food, and electronic devices. The entire experience is jarring and yet you can’t help but feel compelled to watch it. A point I will bring up again later in this article.
The series is broken up into two parts, each part has three episodes, and they connect back to each other. The first part establishes the “origin” of the angel and the reapers, and how a young genius, Jinsu(Yoo Ah-In) uses his “knowledge” of the creatures and their purpose to create a new religion–The New Truth Society. Jinsu and the New Truth Society believe that God is displeased at humanity for not living righteous lives. The heavenly Father was tired of asking us nicely and one day woke up and chose violence. Jinsu hosts panels live and online warning everyone, “stop sinning or the hulks will knock your block off.”
The origin episodes execute their assignment with skilled perfection. They quickly assimilate us into this world where monsters violently take souls to hell and how the characters each handle this reality. This section of the series displays how quickly society will shift to protect itself even when it fundamentally goes against its core values. There are many religions practiced in South Korea but the events of Hellbound convert the entire nation. This leads us into the second half of Hellbound.
In the latter part of the series, the show has jumped about 6 years into the future. Korea now operates under the full guidance of The New Truth Society. Crime is down, people live more righteously, and the citizens are donating their time and money to the “church.” Religion even has control over media. Freedom of Speech, gone! Even with society fully embracing the Lord’s will people are still being sent to hell. So, either the New Truth Society is telling no truth or people are still sinning. Or Both.
Episodes 4-6 follow a television producer and his wife as they try to discover a way to save SPOILER, their 3-day-old baby from its death day. All six episodes have twists and turn that will have your head spinning but the twist involving the baby and a callback from episode two will have your jaws on the floor. There was collective fear and outrage as the internet imagined getting to a scene where the four brutish beasts beat up a baby!
Hellbound strongarms us, the viewers, into recognizing how powerful fear is and how we will do anything for self-preservation. There is nothing wrong with trying to survive, that’s a fundamental instinct embedded in our DNA. We have to live in order for civilization to live. However, the actions taken by those in Hellbound transform that natural instinct into an excuse to do whatever we like under the guise of religion. Yes, some of the people become better people but many take advantage of the situation to hurt people, gain money, power, fame, lie and cheat. They twist the words of the New Truth’s doctrine to benefit themselves. That’s right, giving holy credence to the very sins that caused them to suffer “God’s wrath” in the first place.
Hellbound didn’t invent the wheel but it sure does remind us how the wheel works.
I give Netflix’s Hellbound an A+
Hellbound immaculately depicts the hold fear has on humanity. In addition to the lengths, we will go to preserve that humanity by using religion as the catalyst. I personally can’t wait to see what revelations will be revealed in season two. And, based on my Twitter feed, I think many are just as enthusiastic too.
Hellbound is currently streaming on Netflix and there are 4 issues of the webcomic available to read on Webtoon.
That was my review, now let’s hear yours! Share your thoughts in the comments below or online via our SNS.