Hellbound is an intelligent six-part horror drama made by Netflix in South Korea. It works well as an entertaining story and as social commentary. Where Squid Game has its sights on economic matters, Hellbound takes aim at religious certainty and group think.
The action revolves around visitations by supernatural beings. An influential Christian group called the New Truth considers the visits to be evidence of God’s judgement on sin. Opponents are less certain, and quickly come into conflict with the New Truth’s supporters.
How viewers interpret Hellbound will depend on their religious background and their knowledge of particular forms of belief. I think Hellbound is a criticism of religious leaders who claim that natural disasters are a sign of God’s wrath. Somebody from a different background may read the show’s message differently to me.
One aspect of Hellbound’s religious theme will be universally understood. Hellbound is one of those horrors where the humans are more monstrous than the monsters. The villains of this story are the self-righteous, people who consider themselves to be pure and rejoice in the punishment of sinners. We all know of people like that: people of all faiths and none.
The internet is wondering whether Hellbound is going to be as big as Squid Game. I think it’s possible in those parts of the world where religious leaders receive publicity for harshly judgemental views. I’m not sure if Hellbound’s theme will have as much appeal for viewers unaffected by religion.
Don’t be put off by what I’ve written here. Hellbound is deathly serious but not preachy or po-faced. It works very well as a dark and grisly horror. I found lots to enjoy. The characters are relatable, the action is unpredictable and many moments are unbearably tense.
Try to avoid episode 6 spoilers on social media for as long as you can. Some fans are already posting stills, which seems downright unfair to the uninitiated. I’ll say this and only this, Hellbound’s ending is superb and sets it up for a brilliant second season.