TIFF 2021: “Hellbound”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Imagine living in a world where bad people, like really bad, get short notice, aka prophecy, about their death within hours sent by Angels. And then, they come after the “sinner” to execute him in front of the shocked public.

It’s a quiet day in a café where a man is anxiously looking at his phone. He is sweating, upset and literally in some kind of disbelief. We don’t know much about him, not at least from the beginning. When the timer shows it’s time, he runs outside to be chased by strange creatures, targeting him only. Once they capture him, they smash him against cars and burn him to the crisp. But before, they perform a weird ritual that will be captured by every bystander nearby.

The tour-de-force opening scene does not stop in there, as we are taken to a journalist and the leader of the sect called “The New Truth”,  Bae Young-jae (Park Jeong-min), who seems to have more answers than police can anticipate. His explanation may not sound logical, as he says at some point, “Are you going to arrest God?” Police detective Jin Kyung-hoon (Yang Ik-june), with a tragic past, begins his investigation in which he must draw the line on the stand between right and wrong.

The concept of the new TV series is simple – not to be hunted by Angels, get killed and sent to Hell, and so people must be righteous. But it looks like becoming a good person after receiving the text message won’t work as the timer begins its count down. Slowly, one by one, everyone who is considered a sinner will soon get their due. Virtuoso South Korean filmmaker Yeon Sang-ho does not stop here and begins developing a strong narrative, excellent storylne and a concept that will make you think. It’s not just a series where creatures hunt people to kill them. Not at all. There’s a specific reason for that. And not everyone will get executed. But whoever gets the message, the hellbound journey will be tough and swift, with no chances for redemption nor survival.

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