I did it, you guys. I, the self-proclaimed horror wuss, have finished watching Sweet Home. Achievement unlocked, officially, ha. 🥳
For the record, the reason I decided to try this one out, despite my general aversion to horror, monsters and gore, is because of my recent love for Lee Do Hyun, thanks to the very wonderful 18 Again (go watch it, if you haven’t!).
That, plus the fact that everyone who’s seen it, has been saying such good things about it; mainly, that apart from the blood and gore, it’s very meaty, and there’s a lot to unpack with regards to the psychology of our characters.
That all sounded pretty compelling to me.
Now that I’ve emerged on the other side, I think it’s safe to say that I don’t think I loved it as much as some of you, but I did enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would.
Considering my horror-wussness, I’d count that a win, yes?
I think it’s important to mention upfront, that this series is written to end on a cliffhanger. Is that a spoiler? Maybe.
But, I will say that not knowing ahead of time that I was going to be met with a cliffhanger ending, upset me quite a bit, when I got to the end of episode 10.
I can still feel the traces of.. aggravation and betrayal, as I type this. 😝😅
..Which is why I’m mentioning it now, in case you haven’t seen this one yet. You’re welcome?
STUFF I LIKED
I’ll be doing a fairly macro overview of the show, and then I’ll be giving some of my favorite characters a bit of an individual spotlight each.
1. Show is pretty efficient, generally speaking
Even though each episode is typically only around 45 minutes or so, and we only have 10 episodes of story, AND, we have a pretty sprawling cast of characters to get to know, Show does a good job of setting up our situation and our characters, so that coming away from just episode 1, we already have a good idea of what our characters are facing, and who our key players are likely to be.
Very nicely done, I thought.
2. It can be pretty thought-provoking
Everyone was right, this show is pretty darn thought-provoking, especially for a monster flick (or are all monster flicks thought-provoking? I haven’t seen enough of ’em to know!).
Show manages to weave important themes and questions into the arcs of our various characters, and that makes the experience of watching this show more of a “hit me in the face with an uncomfortable question” kinda thing, rather than a “hit me in the face with your best jump scare” kinda thing. If you didn’t already know, I much prefer the former to the latter. 😅
For the record, here are a few of the themes, ideas and questions that I found thought-provoking, during my watch.
E2. You don’t know how strong you are until you’re in hot water.
As the pressure mounts, different people respond differently.
On one end of the scale, we have Hyun Soo (Song Kang), who steps out of his comfort zone in order to help the kids, and on the other end of the scale, we have the supermarket ahjusshi (Woo Hyun) who is still nitpicking about the food in the supermarket being all his, despite it being an emergency where people are literally dying or turning into monsters.
That degree of self-absorption is quite amazing, honestly. 🤯
E3. Some people turn, but aren’t monsters, while others don’t turn, but are monsters anyway.
There’s the supermarket ahjusshi who won’t share his food, and there’s also Sang Wook, who tortures the mummified guy (Go Geon Han) in rather horrifying ways.
And then there’s the mother with the phantom baby (Im Myung Sook) – whom I thought looked strangely beautiful in her semi-monster state, with the black eyes and ghostly pallor and blood-streaked face – who was still concerned for the kids, and very protective of them, even though she’d turned.
And it’s the same with Hyun Soo. He turned too, but he still cares for others and protects the kids.
E4. Would you sentence one of your community to death, if it means that it could keep the rest of the community safe?
And at what point does it not count as murder?
At what point do you stop seeing that person as human, but as a monster? And, would you still think the same, if that decision were to be applied to you?
Minimart Ahjusshi is so absolutely certain that the right thing to do is oust Hyun Soo – until he himself starts experiencing the tell-tale nosebleeds.
E4. It’s easy to look at someone with judgey eyes, until you’re in their shoes.
When Ji Soo (Park Gyu Young) takes the granola bar from the dead guy’s pocket, Hyun Soo looks at her with judgey eyes.
But when she tosses the bar to him and tells him to put it back if he doesn’t want it, he can’t.
He says she’s mean for doing that, but rather, I think she’s uncomfortably honest and pragmatic.
E5. The idea that people evolve,
..and that people might choose to evolve and become monsters in order to survive, or choose to remain human.
This is contrasted by Kim Gab Soo’s character Mr. Ahn, who states that since we are born human, we should die as humans too.
I guess the question is what each of our characters will choose.
E7. You really get to see what people are made of, when they’re put under pressure.
And that guy who loses it this episode, throwing a tantrum and going berserk, until Sang Wook (Lee Jin Wook) punches him in the face, is an example of someone with a weaker personality and a lot of fear.
However, the fact that he later apologizes to Sang Wook, and says that he deserves to have been punched, also says a lot about how he’s trying his best to look at the bigger picture. Also, it’s easy to panic when you feel that your life is in danger.
3. It can be unexpectedly touching / heartwarming at times
For a show that’s marketed as a monster-centric drama, I found this show very humanistic, actually. It was by turns heartwarming, touching and gratifying, to see our residents overcome their own fear and pain, to extend help, care and comfort to others.
E5. The scene of the mother (Kim Hee Jung), who’d lost her daughter, hugging the two kids and all of them crying together, is so poignant. They’ve all lost someone dear to them, and in this moment, it feels like she’s their surrogate parent, while they are her surrogate children.
E6. The team gets points for not abandoning Hyun Soo. I’d imagined that they would’ve, because the idea of Hyun Soo legit becoming a monster is scary.
I’d thought that they would have turned away and looked for other solutions, but instead they brave the more dangerous parts of the building in order to get Hyun Soo out of his cocoon. That’s quite heartening, honestly.
E7. I appreciate that various residents are starting to step out of their comfort zones to be nicer to Hyun Soo, in spite of their fears.
The girl (Jung Ha Dam) who offers him her food, and who apologizes for making things more difficult for him, and Eun Hyuk (Lee Do Hyun), who offers Hyun Soo the chance to decide for himself, whether he’d prefer to be locked up.
And then, there are people who choose to keep working for the good of the group, despite their own difficulties. Like Yu Ri (Go Yoon Jung), who continues to dress everyone’s wounds, even though her asthma is making it hard for her to breathe.
And Ji Soo, who continues to be part of the core group, even though she’s suffering from abdominal pain.
E8. The residents are also noticeably more empathetic and compassionate towards Seon Yeong (Kim Hyun), when she tells that she’s been experiencing symptoms.
Where before they had reacted with horror towards Hyun Soo, they’ve now learned to be more compassionate, and almost everyone votes against allowing Seon Yeong to leave the building.
The way they talk to her is also kind, encouraging her to hold out, and saying that they want to see her again.
It occurs to me that in the midst of all the threats of being attacked by monsters and possibly turning into monsters, our characters are striving to be human, not just literally, but in displaying humankind’s more noble traits.
4. It can be deeply moving, sometimes
I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of Show’s scenes were deeply moving, to the point that I legit got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
Here are two of these moments that stood out for me, and there’s one more that I’ll talk about in the spotlight on Jae Heon, our resident swordsman.
E3. Jae Heon (Kim Nam Hee) throwing himself in harm’s way while reciting bible verses is a hero. Even though he’s barely met these people, he tells the others to run, while he faces the monster alone.
It’s not even like he’s confident of dealing with the monster, but he does it anyway. Impressive, and altogether moving.
E5. That moment at the shutters, between Sang Wook and Jae Heon, is so powerful. Not a word is spoken, but as Sang Wook tries to pull down the shutters on himself, Jae Heon works to pull the shutters up, and their eyes meet, as they tussle, both their eyes tearful with emotion.
Guh. I love that eventually, grace and compassion wins out over guilt and self-condemnation, and Jae Heon gets Sang Wook back into the relative safety of the building.
STUFF THAT WAS OK
The monster stuff
As you guys already know, I don’t love monster type shows in general, and the monster stuff in this was ok, for me. I didn’t love the monster stuff, but I didn’t hate it either.
The monsters didn’t turn out to be as scary as I’d imagined, and the excessively gushy nosebleeds didn’t bother me as much as I thought they would, either.
I was a little afraid at first, that I just hadn’t gotten to the scary parts yet, but Show maintains its scary levels throughout, and surprisingly, this one turned out to be well within my threshold for horror.
I guess this means that this show isn’t that scary, or.. maybe it means I’m not as big of a horror wuss as I thought..? 🤔
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH
1. Some characters are hard to stomach
This is all par for the course, since a show like this would have its share of unsavory characters, to balance out its heroic ones.
But for the record, I did not care for the supermarket ahjusshi, nor did I care for the mummified, beat-up guy. Both such awful excuses for human beings, ugh. 😤
2. Some writing decisions in Show’s later episodes [HIGH-LEVEL SPOILER]
I’ll talk more about this in my thoughts on the ending, but I felt like the arrival of the thugs in episode 9 came across like a late-stage narrative device to amp up the drama, and I don’t prefer it, overall.
It feels plausible, story-wise, but it also feels like these new elements are being introduced just for the sake of shaking things up and amping up the blood and violence, and milking the subsequent shock value.
Not my favorite thing that Show’s done.
3. The general lack of answers
I rationalize that because our characters don’t have a lot of answers, therefore we don’t get a lot of answers too, but it is admittedly rather frustrating to spend 10 whole episodes with this story, and still not really know what’s going on, except for the tentative theories and conclusions we reach based on what Show has shown us.
Like I mentioned earlier, this story has a lot of characters, so it’s not my aim to cover them all, in this section. What I did want to do, though, was give a few of my favorites a bit of the spotlight.
Song Kang as Hyun Soo
I found Hyun Soo’s arc a poignantly affecting one, because of how he consistently chooses the greater good, in spite of his own fear and pain.
It’s such an irony, that Hyun Soo begins our story as a complete shut-in, socially quite paralyzed due to the loss of his family and being constantly bullied, and already making plans for his suicide, even with a date picked out for his death.
And yet, he becomes a quiet, unassuming, reluctant hero, as he consistently puts others before self, in each of his decisions.
He doesn’t have to agree to Eun Hyuk’s request for him to take on dangerous tasks, but he keeps agreeing to it anyway, because he sees the logic of him being the best choice that they have – even when this decision puts him in danger of experiencing a lot of terror and physical pain.
Even when he is frozen with fear, though, Hyun Soo always desires to do the right thing, like how he saves the kids in episode 5, despite not feeling at all brave.
Sadly, over time, I also came to the conclusion that Hyun Soo doesn’t think that he’s worth any better treatment than what he’s being given, and that’s a large part of why he just accepts it all.
In episode 7, we are shown the bullying that Hyun Soo suffered in all of its cruelty, and it’s really hard to watch.
How awful, that he was targeted just because he’d shown kindness to the new kid in school – who had felt insulted that someone like Hyun Soo would think that he’d need help.
Gosh. The extent of the bullying – and the forcing of others to bully Hyun Soo too, or get bullied themselves – is horrifying, and particularly hard to process in the wake of all the bullying scandals.
It’s heartbreaking to see that Hyun Soo had, once upon a time, been a happy and well-adjusted kid, and the bullying had turned him into a withdrawn, suicidal outcast.
Ack. That’s so, so awful.
The way Hyun Soo says in voiceover, though, that today, he’s going out there, to survive (instead of die), feels like a victory of sorts.
Guh. My heart goes out to Hyun Soo, so much. He’s been through so much, and now he’s still half an outcast because he’s possibly about to turn, and yet, he’s all hero, at the same time, because of the way he’s willing to stick his neck out for the greater good.
While it’s rather unbelievable that Hyun Soo would be able to give himself a nice haircut in the bathroom in episode 8, with a pair of dull-looking scissors, I do like the symbolism, of him reclaiming his old identity and erasing the hold of the bullying over him, with that haircut.
The thing about Hyun Soo, is that no matter what happens in our story, he stays selfless and tenderhearted to the very end, and I can’t help but have a soft spot for him, because of that.
Lee Do Hyun as Eun Hyuk
You guys knew that I would have my eye out for Lee Do Hyun, since he’s one of the key reasons I even considered watching this show, in spite of my aversion to monster-horror things.
I might be biased in saying this, but I thought Lee Do Hyun did a very nice job of delivering the character of Eun Hyuk.
Eun Hyuk may be stoic and impassive a lot of the time, but over the course of our story, we do get glimpses of his inner workings, and I thought Lee Do Hyun handled those subtle layers very well.
One of the most gratifying things about watching Eun Hyuk’s arc, for me, was seeing his compassion and humanity come through his previously unreadable, emotionless facade.
Eun Hyuk comes across as a very smart and shrewd thinker, able to function well under pressure, since he’s one of the first to actually start organizing the residents and figuring out a way to keep everyone safe, when things start going wrong in episode 1.
It’s hard to like Eun Hyuk at first, because of how cold and calculated his decisions can appear, but over time, we do see him have moments of struggle and vulnerability in private.
That definitely helped me to feel more empathetic towards him, and understand that he’s just trying to do what’s best.
And, over time, it is quite touching, actually, to see the heretofore “cold and heartless” Eun Hyuk say and do things that show us that he does care for the wellbeing of his fellow residents.
Like in episode 7, when he tells Hyun Soo that getting food is the secondary goal, and saving Ji Soo is most important.
I’d like to think that Eun Hyuk always felt this way and didn’t show it, but it’s more likely that he’s experienced some growth and gained a more compassionate perspective, while suffering through this monstrous situation with his fellow residents.
Lee Shi Young as Yi Kyung
Lee Shi Young is one heckuva badass in this, with her very impressive action scenes and quick reflexes. I was suitably wowed.
I was pretty darn awed by Yi Kyung as a character, not only for her courage, but also for her compassion. Despite the many difficult circumstances that they faced, Yi Kyung always convinced me that she had the greater good in mind.
Once we find out about Yi Kyung’s tragic backstory, her bravery and selflessness in protecting the group at large, becomes even more touching, because it’s clear that she’s fighting through her own grief and pain, even as she fights off the monsters.
That is such incredible strength and resilience.
And, even after she discovers that she’s pregnant, that doesn’t slow her down one bit, when it comes to fighting off monsters and protecting the people in her care. What a hero.
Lee Jin Wook as Sang Wook
I don’t know if you guys know this, but I’ve mostly found Lee Jin Wook rather cold and hard to connect with, when he’s on my screen.
So color me surprised to find that this is quite possibly my favorite role that I’ve seen of his, so far.
My favorite thing about Sang Wook’s arc, is how we get to see him start out as this wordless, savage sort of character, to reveal an unexpected depth of humanity and compassion on the inside.
Don’t judge a book by its cover indeed. I’d assumed that Sang Wook had had a personal vendetta against Murderer Guy, but as it turns out, the child that was killed wasn’t even related to him.
The child’s father had begged him to look for her, and even though he’d been gruff and declined, he clearly did take on the task – and this was him fulfilling that task.
I do think that his personal history feeds into how he feels towards Murderer Guy. The guy who had set fire to Sang Wook’s home – the fire which had resulted in Sang Wook’s face being burned – had gotten off easy as well.
The rage around that, fueled by the guy’s flippant smugness, had triggered Sang Wook to kill him himself.
I also think it says a lot about Sang Wook, that he went out there, and brought back the bodies of the residents who’d died, before trying to close the shutters on himself.
He was going to let himself die, after ensuring that Murderer Guy would pay for his crime. Looks like Sang Wook isn’t the monster after all, while Murderer Guy, who’d looked like the victim, was actually the perpetrator.
Later, Sang Wook actually asking Jae Heon whether anyone can pray, also indicates that he’s not a heartless gangster; he has a conscience too.
The fact that he doesn’t feel like he can pray, because he thinks God likes Jae Heon better, tells us that he doesn’t like himself very much, for all that he’s done in his life.
And yet, because of the compassion that Yu Ri shows him, we see Sang Wook soften up and become more polite and gracious, in his own gruff way, even as he continues to risk his life to save others.
By the end of the show, I was kinda shocked, that Sang Wook had become of my favorites, among our cast of characters.
Kim Nam Hee as Jae Heon
To be honest, if I had to pick a favorite, Jae Heon would be my favorite, among our cast of characters. There’s just something so warm and approachable about him.
I loved that even from early on, he quickly comes across as pretty badass, walking around in such a calm and controlled manner, and protecting people from monsters with an actual sword – even while admitting that he’s actually nervous and scared.
That conscious choice, that he makes again and again, to rise above his fears, really endeared him to me.
I was completely gutted, when we lose Jae Heon, in episode 8.
Even though I’d figured that our characters would mostly die because of the monsters attacking them, I wasn’t prepared for how bravely and sacrificially Jae Heon would die.
Guh. That was so, so hard to watch, especially since we could see the tears in his eyes. It was not what he wanted for himself, but it was the best solution that he could see, and he took it, each step of the way, until the end. Ack. 💔
The act of throwing the petrol bomb is a really hard one, because by now, these people have grown attached to one another, and this petrol bomb is going to kill one of their own, along with the monster security guard.
Eun Hyuk is the only who is resolute enough to do it, but even then, it’s clearly hard for him too.
That moment, while he and Jae Heon lock eyes before he throws the petrol bomb, it’s as if they are saying all that they want to say, to each other.
I imagine that Jae Heon is telling Eun Hyuk that he’s ready and that he won’t blame Eun Hyuk, and I imagine that Eun Hyuk is telling Jae Heon that he appreciates and values all that he’s done. Gurgle. 😭
I was even more heartbroken, when we see in flashback, in episode 9, that Jae Heon had confessed his feelings to Ji Soo, right before running out to defend the community.
He’d been scared and nervous, like he somehow knew that this might be his last fight, and yet, he’d told her how he felt, and he’d run out without hesitation. What a hero. 😭💔
Kim Sang Ho as Han Du Sik
Du Sik comes in as a close second to Jae Heon, among my favorites.
I just love his cheerful, gruff, can do sort of attitude, despite his physical limitations.
Even though he’s in a wheelchair, he never struck me as being a burden to the group. If anything, he was an asset, with his courage, and his knack for fixing things.
My favorite thing about Du Sik, is his kindness and lack of judgment of others.
Even though he knew that Hyun Soo and the mother of the phantom baby were turning, he didn’t turn them away from his apartment, and provided them with food, and treated them kindly.
His compassion for the mother, who turned into a big monster fetus in the bathroom, is especially noteworthy, considering how everyone else instinctively destroys the monsters at every opportunity, even when it’s a monster that hasn’t done them any harm.
I will talk more about this in my thoughts on the ending, but Du Sik’s death gutted me and moved me, in a very visceral way. 😭 Such a hero, truly. 💔
Kim Gab Soo as Mr. Ahn
Mr. Ahn is a somewhat late addition to our cast of characters, but he turns out to be a great asset to the group nonetheless.
It did take me a while to get used to his deadpan sense of humor, but it wasn’t long before I began to see and appreciate his kindheartedness and courage.
One the things that Mr. Ahn says, that sticks with me, is that wanting to die and not being afraid to die, are two different things. He really isn’t afraid to die, and he continually lays down his life, because he believes that in doing so, others will be afforded the chance to live.
I found Mr. Ahn to be quite the MVP in episode 7. Not only does he come to the rescue team’s aid with a fire-breathing weapon that effectively turns the monsters into walking infernos, he also takes the time to make Hyun Soo and Sang Wook feel more accepted and at home, despite the uncomfortable stares from the other residents.
Plus, he’s also the one to tell Panicked Guy that it’s people like him who act stupidly out of fear, who will die first. Wise and effective words, that.
In episode 8, I found Mr. Ahn admirable, not just for his bold use of petrol bombs on the monster, but for his unhesitating courage in the face of death.
When he thought that the monster was going to kill Hyun Soo, he pushed Hyun Soo aside, and told him to live, while taking Hyun Soo’s place in the monster’s path. Chills. So heroic.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Not gonna lie; I’m a little disgruntled, after finishing this one.
Mainly, I’m not used to a drama finishing on a cliffhanger, and I did not know ahead of time, that this one would end on a cliffhanger. 😭
I came into this assuming it was a single season story, but now I see that this was written specifically to facilitate a second season, which hasn’t even been confirmed yet, and I’m kind of up in a twist about it.
What if Season 2 doesn’t happen? Did we just watch half a story, only to be served up questions instead of answers at the end? Headdesk.
Putting aside my peevishness at Show’s cliffhanger ending (or at least, trying my best to put aside my peevishness at Show’s cliffhanger ending), I’d say that this was a reasonably decent final episode.
First, the downside. I can’t help feeling that we are introduced to new elements in this final stretch, just to introduce violence and senseless killing into the picture.
I didn’t like that very much. I mean, to be fair, the plot point, of violent, cruel thugs attacking the apartment building and taking everyone hostage, while casually and senselessly killing off residents for funsies, is within the realm of possibility of this drama world.
It could happen. One of the thugs turning out to be a golden time in-between human-monster like Hyun Soo, is also within the realm of possibility.
It’s just that, with Show having taken so much time to explore our characters’ psyches, and prodding us with thought-provoking questions about what makes us human, it feels a leettle bit like a cheap shot, to have cruel thugs come in and senselessly kill off a bunch of our characters.
I also couldn’t shake the feeling that Show was doing this in order to amp up the violence in our drama world, so that audiences would be appropriately shocked breathless by the brutality and the very aggressive fight scenes. Maybe this appeals to certain viewers; it didn’t appeal to me.
On the upside, the character of Eui Myeong (Kim Sung Cheol) does represent a moment of reckoning for Hyun Soo, as he reconsiders his beliefs and values.
Eui Myeong’s the one who brings in the question of whether humans and monsters can co-exist, and he’s also the one who makes the provocative statement, that it was never about getting rid of the monster in him, because he is that monster.
What Eui Myeong says about humans bringing harm to monsters seems true, when we see the residents’ fear drives them to kill the slime-monster despite Yeong Su’s anguished cries not to, because the monster had saved him.
At the same time, Eui Myeong doesn’t make a great representation for the monsters, with the way he guns down Yu Ri and Sang Wook, even though he’d agreed to let them go. That felt unnecessarily cruel, since they’d already had the odds stacked against them from the monsters roaming outside.
I will say, though, that Hyun Soo’s transformation, with his arm morphing into a huge spiked wing, is quite mesmerizing to behold. I mean, it’s an awful moment, but it’s presented with a haunting kind of beauty.
Even more haunting, is the way Du Sik throws himself into Hyun Soo’s spiked embrace, to comfort him and tell him that it’s not his fault, even though he knows that the embrace will be lethal to him personally.
That’s such a huge sacrifice; he gave up his life in an attempt to preserve someone else’s humanity.
Oof. That was gutting to watch. 😭
Also noteworthy, is how several of the residents step in to prevent those who instinctively raise their weapons, reminding one another, that this is still Hyun Soo. That’s evidence against the case that humans will always bring harm towards monsters, I think.
Another example of selfless sacrifice, is how Eun Hyuk chooses not to join the rest of the group in the secret tunnel, and stays in the building while it collapses on him. We see that he’s started to experience the nosebleeds too, which means that he decided not to join the rest, in order to protect the group from himself.
Eun Hyuk, trying to smile through the tears, as he gazes at that taped-up photograph of his family, while the building starts to come down on him, was heartbreaking to watch. 💔
Say what you may about Eun Hyuk being coldly logical; he applies the same standard of isolation to himself, that he’d applied to other residents who had started to turn.
He does not give himself any special treatment, and that says a lot about what his character is made of.
I’ll say that the first time I watched this finale, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of some of the scenes that Show was serving up. But, on a second viewing to write this review, I do think that the narrative pieces make more sense than I’d initially thought.
Maybe I’m just not very good with monster stories; it took me a long second to figure out that Eui Myeong’s true form is the moving red slime, and that he can inhabit any body that he wants to. So the baby-faced Eui Myeong that we meet, isn’t his original form at all.
Which, y’know, makes me wonder if this is Yi Kyung’s fiancé, without his memories of her (since Hyun Soo did lose his memories as well, after his transformation).
Piecing that together, it seems highly probable that the Sang Wook that we see, driving Hyun Soo to an unknown location in the military vehicle, is actually Eui Myeong, rather than Sang Wook come back to life.
That would make sense, especially since this Sang Wook has no burn scars on his face, which Eui Myeong’s hyper-healing abilities would have been able to erase.
From what I can gather, it appears that Eui Myeong, now in Sang Wook’s body, has kidnapped Hyun Soo after his surrender to the military, while Yi Kyung has joined the special forces in order to keep her end of the deal, and the rest of the survivors are transported to a supposed safe camp.
Like I said before, I’m rather disappointed to realize that I was watching half a story and not a full one (I mean, this is one of the main reasons Asian dramas are my preferred choice, right? Because they tend to tell full stories!).
Still, if (when?) Season 2 comes out, I’m quite likely to tune in, if only to get some closure on this season’s unanswered questions.
That said, if it’s announced that this is going to become a multi-season deal, I might have to draw the line and cut Show off.
Personally, I can’t bring myself to take the risk of investing my time and emotions in multiple seasons of a show, only to maybe-possibly not get a satisfying ending at all, if Show were to get canceled unexpectedly. 😝
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Not bad, all things considered. Manages to be thought-provoking in the midst of the bloody-monster stuff.
FINAL GRADE: B+
Watched this and started reading the Webtoon version though this came first (i think). There’s another webtoon that’s (some say) supposed to be the prelude to this called Shotgun Boy…hope this becomes a show too. Glad that you enjoyed the show although you’re averse to horror stories.
I love horror and supernatural shows and i watched this when i didn’t know who Song Kang is(grubby looking main hero as opposed to the shady hottie Park Jae On in Nevertheless and i also didn’t watch Love Alarm). Great review. I agree — this one’s quite a gem if you can look past the monsters and suspense.
Hey Aiza! Since you like horror/supernatural, do you have any suggestions?
Well, in my view there’s no cliffhanger here. I thought the end was clear; a few of the residents got out, hopefully to be taken care of (in a real, not a Mafia way) a few others sacrificed themselves (including Lee DoHyun’s character, unfortunately) and the two uber-monsters got away. I would have certainly preferred a happy ending for Hyun Soo since he was such a warm, decent person all along, but that wasn’t an option, I guess.
All in all, it was a good show with a solid character development for its whole cast- I found that pretty impressive if you think that there are 20 episodes-long dramas where we get zero character development for the main leads.
Also, excellent acting. The ensemble cast was amazing, but I do think that Hyun Soo’s lost look was particularly heartbreaking. To be honest, I hadn’t seen any of the leads before but I will be checking their other work now.
For me, there must only be one caveat: the monsters are real comic book monsters, and sometimes they are not scary or realistic at all. The actors and the directing however was that good that we got to feel the characters ‘ fear and anxiety. Good job.
Oooh, I am surprised to see that you watched this one 🙂 I too have an aversion to horror, so I haven’t seen it. I love survival stories though and have heard such good things about it, the only thing holding me back is the potential gore. How bad is it? I can handle all kinds of blood (that sounds bad, lol) and what I think of as “regular” action type violence. I just can’t do the actual gory, gross type stuff. So what is the verdict on the gore factor? 🙂
Loved your review. I love these survival kind of stories and my love of lee do hyun made me watch this drama. I quite liked it and the best part of the drama for me are the performances of the entire cast. The ending of a cliffhanger was quite suprising for me but I’m getting used to the netflix shows. The most moving part for me among several were jae hoon sacrificing himself and eun hyuk smiling at his family’s photo. We just see so little of him smiling and the way he smiled through his tears and fear was so heart breaking for me. Lee do hyun killed it there. As always the most repulsive part of the series were the humans which was showed through the bullying. My stomach literally turns on thinking about that.
@kfangurl – your review has me right back at odds with myself as to whether or not to continue. I’ve watched two (maybe 1 and a half?) episodes of this show. And those two were weeks apart. I’m weighing my love for seeing Lee Si-Young in action with how much I hate horror shows. I think the info you provide that some people change and others don’t would break my brain that hates having things inconsistent and unexplained.
As to the spoiler that it ends on a cliff hanger – THANK YOU!
I think I’ve made up my mind. I’ll just look for clips of Lee Si-Young’s action scenes on youtube.
DARN IT! The clips of Lee Si-Young from this show has made me change my mind again! I guess I’ll just catch an episode whenever there’s a Kdrama dessert.
Well, KFG, I enjoyed every minute of Sweet Home. Not only that, this is a favourite amongst my offspring because the youngest one has studied the webtoon at School – can you believe that? It allowed us to have quite engaging conversations such as what is Show really about? Anyway, needless to say two out of three were disappointed with the ending, because that is not how it goes down in the original story. However, they gave it a thumbs up all round. For me the acting was awesome and we get to see some of the secondary characters (well are they because show is in effect an ensemble?) play against type for a change – yippee and deliver in spades. Now that you have successfully tackled this one, you should try one day (way into the future), the jdrama Alice in Borderland. The kids were even more impressed I devoured this one and rated it highly.
Cheers, Sean.. I share your (and your kids?) appreciation for and enjoyment of Alice in Borderland. It was pretty solid entertainment, and most of those games were truly wild and adrenaline-charged.
I feel like it’s only fair to warn Kfangurl, though, of a couple things. One, just like Sweet Home, Alice ends on an ambiguous, open-ended, cliff-hanger-y note, so if you didn’t like it in Sweet Home, you might face the same thing in Alice. Now, unlike Sweet Home (yet), Netflix has already announced that there will be a second season of Alice, so even though we don’t know when it will come out, at least there’s the likelihood that some things might get addressed/resolved in the future.
And second…there’s no monsters as such in Alice, but it is bloody and violent in places, as much as or maybe even more than Sweet Home. So if that sort of thing stresses you out, be aware that it’s there.
With those caveats, like I said, I quite enjoyed it for its feral survival games on steroids thriller vibe, so.
Thanks, Trent. I am glad you enjoyed Alice, too. It’s good you listed those caveats in there for kfangurl. I look forward to the second season of Alice and whether we get the answer to – who is controlling who? As for Sweet Home, it seems to be much more difficult to get hold of actors for return events in kdramaland. If it happens, it will be a long way off. Well, I am back on to Sisyphus, Vincenzo and Times. All three are pulling out all the stops.
I’m with you on Sisyphus and Vincenzo. I’m looking at maybe giving Mouse a try? I’ve been seeing some positive comments about it. Want to let a few more episodes build up first, though. If something turns out to be good, it’s hard sometimes to be forced on a diet of only two episodes a week…
I am not so sure about Mouse. Initially, I thought I would give it a pass. I feel a bit burnt (singed 😂) by those kdramas in recent years re those who can see psychopaths (past, present, future) around them along with the inaccurate portrayal of such villains.
I can appreciate what you say re waiting for the next episode(s). However, in the main, I am happy to wait and look forward to the next episode of currently airing shows. This is also the interesting challenge with Chinese dramas. Although they have a high number of episodes, they show 6 or 7 episodes a week. Of course this is great if it is a good show, but not so great when they fall apart half way through from a viewing time investment point of view.
If I look at LUCAS, the other dynamic is the trend towards shortening kdramas to 12 episodes or less. LUCAS was great for the first half, but then it became like Alice and Rugal, to name a few. If LUCAS was 16 or 20 episodes, I would have dropped it. But, I said to myself it’s only 12 episodes, so I will see it through.
The shorter episode length has definitely been a determining factor in a few cases between whether I decide to give something a go or let it pass. If I see something is 10 or 12 episodes, I’m more likely to say “okay, I’ll take a flyer on it, it’s not such a long commitment”. If it’s 20 or 24 episodes, on the other hand…it better have great word of mouth and a strong record or something really recommending it.
Sean, I am amazed that your youngest studied this in school. That is pretty cool. As for Sweet Home I had to drop as I could not read the subs as I was holding my hand in front of my eyes due to fear, 🤣😆
I looked at the trailer for Alice in Borderland and I will say that all the actors and actresses may be some of the best looking people I have seen in a while. 🤣😂 I don’t do well with gaming dramas and as much as I like to look at beautiful faces I will take a pass.
Thank you for the heads up about the cliffhanger ending. I hate those.
I’ll wait till season 2 comes around( IF it does)!
Also, not a big fan of the horror genre, and I’ve heard you feel the same way! So, if you say it wasn’t too bad, I’ll give it a shot!
Aaaaaaahhhhh!!! Yay, you managed to hold out and finish this. I was wondering when I didn’t see anymore news or comment, I figured it might have quietly slipped off the radar… I am glad you were able to appreciate its, uh, charms. Good review, I think you were fair and did it justice.
–yes, it is quite humanistic in the way it delves into its characters and their relationships. The best monster stories are the ones that use the fantastic or scary surroundings to shine a light or hold up a mirror to interrogate our humanity. That’s why I ended up liking this as much as I did (I’m not a big monster story fan, either, and I generally don’t do horror as a genre).
–the bad guys that crashed the party around the penultimate episode…I agree they could be there because the writers wanted to give a big jolt of tension and adrenaline near the end, but I also interpreted them as being Show’s attempt (fairly heavy-handedly, to be fair) to foreground a theme that I think is quite common in monster or horror dramas: that the real monsters often come in human form, and depravity can wear a human face, and doesn’t necessarily come in a monster’s guise.
–I agree that Lee Do-hyun was very good; I don’t have quite the same level of fannish devotion, but I did appreciate him. My take on his character was that he pushed himself into a position of leadership from the start not because he was naturally cold or uncaring, or because he loved power or had some desire to dominate (I think some people do seek leadership for those reasons), but because he could clearly see that the little nascent community that was forming really needed leadership to survive, needed someone who could present that cold rational front and give everyone something to look to and to follow in a very scary and uncertain situation. So I give his character credit for that, and then of course near the end, we do get more glimpses of the real person underneath. I thought it was particularly moving how his adoptive sister, who spent most of the show trying so hard to maintain her cynical b*tch facade, was so gutted by his decision to stay behind.
–I liked Hyun-soo’s character in this, and I have to say that I prefer Song Kang ever so much more in this than in Love Alarm, which I had happened to watch not long before this (his character there is just a prat and a jerk, in my opinion. Or maybe I’m just not very attuned to high school dramas). But he was much more watchable in this.
–I’ve liked Park Gyu-young since I saw her in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, and I really liked her character here. I’m glad to see she apparently gets to be FL in a KBS rom-com later this year. I like how Ji-soo and Eun-yoo are able to move past the rivalry vibe (mostly on Eun-yoo’s side) into a more proto-friendship and support posture later in the Show (and speaking of outside events affecting dramas, it was happy-making to read an article about how PGY and Go Min-si apparently got to be quite good friends while filming this.. if such articles can be believed, of course).
–I agree with you about our heroic swordsman Jae-heon. More than that, I think there is actually some real subverting of cliche going on here with his character. My impression is that in recent years it’s become somewhat cliche to have devoutly religious characters in mainstream drama sort of typecast as rigid, preachy, moralistic, often unpleasant people. And right away it feels like we’re getting set up for Jae-heon to be that kind of character: when we meet him, he’s heading off to a church event, carrying a bible (as I recall), and when Ji-soo meets him, she’s kind of the in-narrative representative for we, the audience, clearly wary of being proselytized by someone she suspects might be awkwardly evangelical or something. But then he turns out to be not that at all. Over the course of the show, he’s shown to be a decent person, someone who has doubts but is still steadfast and quietly courageous. And then that ending…it’s terribly sad, of course (I had tears, honestly), but it is a bona fide heroic sacrifice. He gave himself up willingly to protect and save the community. Genuinely moving.
Anyway, yeah. I was impressed by what they managed to do with this. Thanks for sticking with it and giving it your time and attention in your review.