Spoilers will carry some holy water.

I jumped into this one without knowing much about the show. Let me say right out that the special effects are not what sells this show. There is a human and philosophical drama at its core, albeit one that might still require more exploration that the show does with its initial season run. The premise is not one that explains itself easily, which is a good thing. We don’t know why, we only know things happen. Explaining the reasons is what could make it or break it.

(Credit: Netflix)

Hellbound (2021) is directed by Yeon Sang-ho, based on his own web cartoon of the same name, and written by Choi Kyu-sok. People start to receive otherworldly messages “decrees” from a floating face that they name an angel that tell them when they are bound for hell. When the time comes, three giant shadowy figures appear, chase the person down, execute them violently and burn them to a crisp. This is named as a “demonstration”. A religious cult called the New Truth is born, dubbing all decree recipients as sinners and rapidly gaining followers. Another group calling themselves the Arrowhead chases the sinners down.

Throughout the season we meet and follow several characters such as detective Jin Kyeong-hoon (Yang Ik-june), New Truth’s young cult leader Jeong Jin-soo (Yoo Ah-in), lawyer Min Hye-jin (Kim Hyun-joo), producer Bae Young-jae (Park Jeong-min), among others. All of them are dealing with situations and consequences as people rally for them or against them surrounding this new reality. Overcoming the “decree” is an unescapable curse and becoming ostracized by the public is another sentence to bear. Not all characters continue on to the next episode as the focus moves on to a new story, but some do reappear.

The selling or breaking point is the human drama of characters ending in the wrong side of religious zeal, as people try to come of up with their own explanation on what is going on. The special effects themselves are not the selling point. Actually the CGI monsters are the biggest hurdle to overcome when watching the show. It’s the drama and the philosophical quandary that should keep audiences glued to the TV sets.

Strongly recommended with reservations. The human drama and perseverance matched against mob mentality and fanaticism is what sells it for me. On the other hand, the special effects are not bad just not quite as threatening given they’re easily identified as CGI. You have to move past them to watch the show. The focus changing from one character and story to another might not be for all audiences, but it does focus more on this dark future than on a single story in particular. Worth a watch.

That will do for now.