“Hellbound” review: a dark reflection of society

Netflix’s new sci-fi thriller doesn’t disappoint

Sophie Shram, Arts & Culture Editor

From the same director as “Train to Busan,” Yeon Sang-ho presents “Hellbound,” a new South Korean dark fantasy series that quickly became Netflix’s most watched series. However, before deciding to watch, keep in mind the show’s TV-MA rating and the tags of the show as it contains violence and potentially triggering content. 

The show takes place on Earth in 2023 when otherworldly beings, known as angels, begin to appear in front of people to give them prophecies, soon to be known as decrees, to sentence particular people to Hell, be it mere seconds or years into the future. Once the prophesied time arrives, three monstrous beings appear to attack and incinerate the person’s body in a brutal display known as a demonstration. 

The show delves heavily into religion, cults and how easily the masses can be manipulated to benefit one’s goal. Two groups emerged soon after the public realized decrees and demonstrations were read called the New Truth Society led by Jung Jin-soo, and a group hungry for power called the Arrowhead group. The groups worked in tandem and gained power by exploiting the fears of people by saying those who received decrees were sinners being punished by God and deserved to be shamed and humiliated. As the show progresses through each episode, an overwhelming sense of hopelessness follows as you begin to see how bleak the future of humanity looks for the characters. 

As a fan of the show, senior Isabella Rodriguez had a lot to say about the realistic portrayal of human behavior and plot development throughout the series.

“‘Hellbound’ was an interesting take on religion and cults,” said Rodriguez. “With that came people who extorted others’ fears for power and money. I mean how much more realistic can it get? We have people extorting our fears for financial gains now without the killer demons. Additionally, many people tend to turn to religion in desperate times like those seen in the show.”

“The world in ‘Hellbound’ seems so distant,” said Rodriguez.  “But at the core, it’s a reflection of our society now. We turn to religions or greater powers to give us meaning, or we turn to governments for protection and order. However, those that are supposed to protect us are actually working against us.”

In a final reflection, Rodriguez stated, “There’s so many layers to ‘Hellbound,’ it’s one of those shows that gets better the more times you watch it because you can pick out so many more details and real world parallels.”

Director Yeon Sang-ho did an incredible job directing the show. As the story progresses, it opens up watchers to new perspectives on society as a whole and makes them reflect on the issues brought up throughout the show. Corruption, abuse of power and propaganda are heavy and complex topics discussed in the show. It displays how easy it is to corrupt those who come into power. “Hellbound” is a dark and gory show that is a must watch for those who love horror and dystopian societies.