If you happen to have nosebleeds, experience hallucinations or feel a sudden drop in your body temperature, you have to let us know immediately. Sounds familiar? It isn’t a drill pertinent to the coronavirus though. These are early symptoms of “monsterification” within the new Netflix series, Sweet Home.
Home is where we imagined feeling safest but there’s nothing welcoming about the series at all. It’s a startling irony to what the title should mean, a gripping fiction based on the hit webtoon series stuffed with stomach-churning twists and breathtaking monsters. This highly anticipated series will surely provide you with an honest scare and may keep you awake in the dead of night.
The timing of its release is quite intriguing. It comes at a time when most of us are withdrawn from the real world due to the quarantine restrictions. It’s quite parallel to what is depicted in the series. Will it be a petri dish for satire and allegory that a lot will talk about? Our guess is that the aim is to distract us from what’s going on around us, maybe to make us all more frightened and leave us gasping.
Just like anyone who became angst-ridden due to being secluded, the story revolves around Hyun-soo played by Song Kang, who is a social recluse. Depressed after the tragic demise of his family, he decides that suicide is his only option. Not until he becomes a monster too and chose to save the world instead.
A lot of us can relate to the lead character as those feelings of uncertainties can surely lead to hopelessness. It’s a frightening time and we’re in the midst of a pandemic, this Netflix series can be the exact representation of what we’re going through. Just like him, we’re afflicted with our own monsters, our inner demons. We’re confronted with our personal struggles on how we will overcome the ill-effects of this pandemic.
What is this series all about?
Picture a dystopian world where people turn into monsters overnight or get killed by the monsters their family, friends, and neighbors turned into. It’s such a horrific sight where humanity is struggling to survive in the midst of an unimaginable disaster. The fear that the person next to you might turn into a monster any minute can be heart pounding. It will surely be a wild ride as the dramatic tension experienced by the characters who have to be even more monstrous than the monsters themselves in order to make a decision to save themselves and others. The thrill can surely keep you on the edge of your seat during every episode.
This Netflix blockbuster project is a stark contrast to the popular hits of Director Lee Eung-bok such as Mr. Sunshine, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, and Descendents of the Sun.
“The irony that the world goes crazy on the day the boy decided to kill himself and the boy-turned-monster saves others seemed interesting. Also, working on a new genre allowed me to try new ways of expression,” the director revealed.
It’s awesome to witness the creative process in a genius’s mind. Kim Yeong-gyu (Studio Dragon), the executive producer, said that: “It was inspiring to see Director Lee, already a top director, trying something new outside of his comfort zone and how meticulous and relentless he was during the actual production,” raising the expectation for Sweet Home even further with his comment who is about to open up a new frontier for K-content with his new attempt at the creature genre series.
What is Green Home?
This riveting story creates a claustrophobic and grotesque atmosphere as it’s centered in the “Green Home“, an old apartment complex. Supposedly a sweet home but turns out to be nightmarish. It’s where the high-impact survival thriller takes place. The other residents realized they are trapped and have to fight for their lives. Surrounded by monsters in various forms of distorted human desires that are almost invincible, they have to find a way to survive. Imagine that you always have to be worried about who’s knocking outside your door. What’s intriguing is that all events happen in this run-down building.
“Our team saw a lot of different apartment buildings, we found an apartment building that was built back in the 1930s. Seeing that building, we tried to feel the desire and look for queues that could tell us the desires of the human mind and body. We left those queues in the set and we hope that you find that as well,” the brilliant director said.
Watching the series will make you feel like you’re inside Green Home.
“We wanted to show how the building falls apart as the story unfolds along with the stages of monsterization. There’s the light that comes from the outside like the light through the cracks of the wall blocking the entrance. Like the light, we tried to give hope to the characters that are still inside,” he added.
What about the monsters?
Meanwhile, the “monsterization” of people begin to emerge including Hyun-soo. Everyone is under the threat of becoming a monster in the shape of their deepest desires. Imagine your innermost thoughts and desires can suddenly turn you into a monster, that would absolutely be chaotic. Now they must find the answers to survive while questioning the difference between right vs wrong. It’s a battle of us vs. them and a difficult choice whether to keep Hyun-soo alive or otherwise.
These terrifying monsters may be a little more real than we think. Transformed from the innermost desires of humans, they’re not just any brain-eating zombies. The series digs deeper into the human mind and morality. The story takes those individual facets of a person and twists them into something extreme. It’s possible that it stems from the idea that monsters reflect the prejudices and fears of a society.
Desires motivate us and help us find meaning and purpose. In reality, too much desire creates conflict. If the desire is unmet, it can be painful and makes you suffer. It angers you and sometimes it makes you greedy. On that note, it makes you a monster. This adds extra layers of psychological depth to this apocalyptic genre.
Sweet Home tackles fighting your own demons and sacrificing for others
What makes Sweet Home stand apart is that it rises above your usual run-of-the-mill thriller fare. There are a lot of monsters in the series but what’s interesting is the constant struggle of Hyun-soo with his own monsters, his inner demons. Initially, he was full of rage and self-loathing. He has also struggled with trauma and suicidal thoughts. What’s intriguing is how he can overcome them and lead the fight for survival to save the world. Winning over depression is not an easy feat as it makes you devoid of hope. It makes you feel helpless too.
As it gives us a wild ride into the spine-tingling and horrific scenes, the series also touches on the beauty of the human soul, sacrifice. A compelling line in the trailer which says, “there’s no greater love than laying one’s life for their friends. If you do as God commands, you’re his friend,” has struck me. This shows the highest form of love is selflessness. A lot of us can resonate on this as we tend to sacrifice so much for our families. As a family-centric nation, it has been our cultural identity. I’m sure that it’s not only a screamfest. There will also be a lot of heart-tugging moments to relate to.
Why should you watch it?
There’s a reason why Netflix has chosen to have a live adaptation of this mega-hit webtoon. This action-packed thriller can be not only nightmare-inducing but also can make us feel hopeful. It’s an enthralling and fascinating series that can take you off your mind from what’s happening around us.
I was blown away by how it tackles the human spirit, its desires, and its fight for survival. I was also so impressed with the determination and willpower that the characters have shown, on how they have overpowered the monsters inside them. It mixes dread and suspense with a contemplative mood as it ponders some pretty deep questions about the impending collapse and persistence of human civilization.
Let me tell you that this is not for the faint of heart. It’s high-stakes suspense that will hit you right on the get-go as it will melt your heart so it’s surely worth your time. Also, you don’t want to miss out on something that is ingenious, a K-content that is masterful and is truly global.
Let’s meet the characters
Green Home might have been enclosed due to monsterization but it’s always fun to take a peek behind the closed doors and get to know the main characters better. You’ll be shocked to know that these rising stars are familiar faces who we might have seen before.
Song Kang as Hyun-su
Song Kang portrays the main character Hyun-su who experiences a personal tragedy before moving to the Green Home apartment complex. Hyun-su has a dynamic character from depressed & very reclusive to the hero who saved the day. It’s definitely a transformation for Song Kang who is well known for his boy next door character Hwang Sun-oh in Love Alarm. Or maybe you have seen him in his debut drama The Liar and His Lover where he acted as the childhood friend with a one-sided crush.
Lee Jin-uk has a complicated character who makes a transformation as the mysterious and scarred Pyeon Sang-wook. With humans suddenly becoming monsters, it’s hard to trust anyone let alone someone who looks rough around the edges like him. On the other hand, he is known for having portrayed sharp detective Do Kang-woo in Voice S2. His character examined crime scenes from the viewpoint of a criminal in order to solve crimes.
Lee Si-young was the first and only actress that Director Lee Eung-bok had in mind for the role of former firefighter Seo Yi-kyung. The actress is known for her action and boxing skills, so it’s no surprise that Yi-kyung is a key fighter against the monsters of Sweet Home. Lee Si-young also displayed some of her action chops in the revenge-crime drama The Guardians opposite Kim Young-kwang.
This guy takes on a different type of role as Lee Eun-hyeok. I should say he’s my favorite, a caring brother who is a geek and eventually becomes a leader of the Green Home residents after the monsterization begins. His breakout role was the ever-loyal Go Cheong-myeong in Hotel Del Luna. He debuted through Prison Playbook and then acted in Still 17 and Clean with Passion for Now afterward.
Kim Nam-hee is most well-known for playing a bad guy in the acclaimed series Mr. Sunshine. This time around, he reunites with Director Lee Eung-bok and plays a good guy. Jung Jae-heon is a Korean language teacher who is guided by his faith and fights the monsters of Sweet Home with his sword. Kim Nam-hee also portrayed a dorky employee at Barro in Search WWW.
Ko Min-si reunites with Love Alarm co-star Song Kang in Sweet Home. She acts as Lee Eun-yu who is also Lee Eun-hyeok’s younger sister. Lee Eun-yu dreamt of becoming a ballerina, but she has all but given up on her dream. Prior to Love Alarm, she portrayed the daughter of two police officers in Live.
Park Kyu-young has portrayed a diverse range of characters and her character Yoon Ji-su proves no different. Yoon Ji-su is a friendly bass player who wields a bat once monsters start terrorizing the apartment complex. You probably remember her as the nurse with a crush on Kim Soo-hyun’s character in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. She also portrayed a pure and innocent younger sister in The Nokdu Flower, an heiress with an overbearing mother in Romance Is a Bonus Book, and a peculiar and opinionated character in The Third Charm.
Go Youn-jung made her acting debut last year through He Is Psychometric. Prior to this, she had modeling experience and has filmed a number of commercials. The actress also appeared in The School Nurse Files as a student from another high school. Her Sweet Home character is Park Yu-ri, Mr. An’s caretaker. With her nursing background, she aids injured residents.
Kim Gap-soo acts as An Gil-seop, an older man with an underlying condition who remains brave when having to deal with the monsters. He is kind to everyone, befriends young boy Yeong-su, and cares especially for Yu-ri. As a veteran actor, you might recognize him from several dramas. Some of his notable works include Hospital Playlist, Chief of Staff, Whisper, and The K2.
Kim Sang-ho is another actor you might have seen in a few other shows. Some of his previous roles include Kingdom, Missing 9, Bring It On Ghost, Lucky Romance, and Doctor Stranger. As for his Sweet Home character, he portrays Han Du-sik who uses a wheelchair due to a previous accident. Du-sik helps create useful weapons for the residents to use to protect themselves against the monsters.
In a time when all you want is to be distracted, Sweet Home can be your refuge and source of hope. It has premiered on the last 18th of December, 2020, and airs two episodes a week on Netflix, the world’s leading entertainment streaming platform.