A Netflix limited series, Hellbound was a smashing success, overcoming the language barrier to engross audiences of at-home viewers.


Lauren Ritz

Hellbound is a series of flames and ferocity, through which the main characters must navigate.

Combining rabid religious hysteria with brutal special effects and gutting, exasperated performances, Hellbound supplements Netflix’s original limited series by bringing horror to the screens of audiences everywhere. The show opens with a simple scene of a bustling cafe in the middle of a city. Immediately throwing off the atmosphere typically assigned to horror, this beginning includes joking teenagers, busy employees, and content customers bathed in natural light. However, in the show’s first display of misdirection, all is not as it seems. The camera quickly cuts to an obviously paranoid man fixated on the time, paralyzed in fear. Seemingly out of place amid the energized shop, the man recoils as a minute passes, only to cry in relief as life carries on uneventfully. Unfortunately, this misplaced hope is quickly shattered in a rain of glass and terror as monsters known as enforcers apparate to claim the man’s soul. At this point, the episode shifts focus to detective Jin Kyung-hoon (played by Yang Ik-june) reviewing the case and its connections to the New Truth, a religious organization. Kyung-hoon also uses this time to delve into the New Truth’s connections with hacker organization The Arrowhead. The show takes place in South Korea and was originally shot there. It was dubbed for english-speaking audiences but manages to convey a compelling story despite the language barrier. Additionally, both the original and voice actors do an excellent job of manifesting the worsening dread sown by Jung Jin-soo, the calm, yet calculating leader of the New Truth played by Yoo Ah-in. Following the theme of the show, mobs of zealots with unwavering conviction towards their cause brutalize side characters in a demonstration of the dangers of abandoning one’s humanity. These chilling scenes rock audiences to the core and dwarf the fear conjured by the hulking beings introduced at the beginning of the series. In fact, the haunting grip of this coldness pervades organizational alignment, leaving no character safe from a god’s blind justice and producing one of the best mid-series turns in television. That being said, the series isn’t without its faults. While the gore and special effects of the show exceeded expectations, the CGI simply doesn’t do the animated angels it creates justice. Similarly, some scenes suffered from dub actors’ interpretations of the characters differing from the visible portrayals or being too over-the-top. The pacing of the show is also awkward at points. Overall, Hellbound excels at having a gripping storyline, philosophical struggle, and entrapping performances while tackling a contentious topic from a unique angle. The series has protagonists the audience wants to root for, antagonists to sympathize with, as well as impactful intermediary characters that steal the show, balancing out the holy trinity. So, when it comes to portraying mass religious paranoia, trauma, and heresy, no one does it better than the cast of Hellbound and that’s just the (new) truth.