So I’m back. I noticed this Korean show is the number one trending thing on Netflix and since it’s Halloween season and this show is pretty dark and intense, we’re going to review this bad boy. I didn’t really understand at first why Squid Game is so crazy popular, but then I remembered that this show is similar to the likes of Hunger Games, Fall Guys and other battle royale type stuff that the people of today are still weirdly obsessed with. My cynical brain believes the battle royale stuff is the reason why the show is so popular, but somewhere inside I love that we’re seeing another Parasite phenomenon where it’s another foreign property that just blew up with the masses. This fascinates me enough to drop my two cents on the topic and also the fact that I’ve been away for awhile and I’m sure some of you might have missed me.
Let’s start on some positives about Squid Game because it won’t remain that way for too long. The pilot episode ‘Red Light, Green Light’ does a solid job at getting you interested in the characters and the big mystery of “the games”. (I’m calling them The Games, because the show never tells you their official name and I highly doubt they’re called the Squid Games.) Our main character, Gi-Hun is your classic down on his luck loser, the cause of which is because he’s a total screw-up. Gi-Hun is given a chance at redemption when a man in the subway gives him the opportunity to win a 100 grand, and potentially win more cash by ringing up a number in order to enter “the games”. Gi-Hun is eventually kidnapped and held at gunpoint by masked PlayStation button guards with over 450 other strangers to compete in all your favourite childhood games. The first game for example is Red Light, Green Light, I’m sure we all know what that is, except here if you get caught moving on the red light you’ll not only be eliminated from the game, but also life. The dark brutality of this show is on full display when after the first body drops loads of contestants start running back to the closed up entrance, while mercilessly being gunned down by snipers. This is essentially the hook of the show and even though Netflix classifies Squid Game as a thriller, but I view it more as horror, due to how unsettling the violence and deaths are depicted in this show. That’s essentially the gist of Squid Game, there are 5 other games to beat in order to win the mother load, all accompanied with their own equally messed-up moments, so enjoy!
I do like watching the games, but they’re not the reason why I stuck with the show. Squid Game’s greatest quality is the excellent character writing. An advantage a TV show has over movies is they have plenty of time to let the characters grow on you, this is especially beneficial to something like the horror genre, when it’s very easy to guess which one of these suckers isn’t going to live to see the credits roll. I rather care for side characters in horror movies, luckily Episode 2 of Squid Game subverts my expectations, by putting the spotlight on the other recurring characters in the show and explaining how they got wrapped up in The Games. The highlights of this show is seeing the contestants teaming-up, coming up with strategies as to what the next game might be and finding common interests within their respective groups. Its from the interactions where the acting really shines and where I figured out which one of these contestants are my favourite and least favourite character. This is the stuff I love and other than the big mystery behind the super secret organisation running The Games, I couldn’t really find anything else in this story that kept my interest.
I’ll try not to share specifics, but basically the show gets worse as it goes along. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that this is one of the most predictable TV shows I have ever seen. You really don’t need to put much thought into who exactly will cross the finish line at the end of each game. Realising this did hinder the enjoyment and intensity of watching the games and if it wasn’t for how well handled the characters were, this portion of the show would lose its value. Don’t get me started on the ending as it suffers from the same problem I had with every Marvel show I’ve reviewed this year. Perfectly crafted set-ups that drop dead at the conclusions. It’s painful to even think about them in Squid Game as this show has some of the most insultingly disappointing endings to subplots and characters I’ve seen since probably Game of Thrones. The writing in the later portions of the show gets really sloppy as it’s filled with plot holes and the closing reveals don’t make much sense. As of this review there hasn’t been confirmation for a second season, so if this is meant to be a mini-series, it leaves too much open for my tastes, to be a satisfying watch.
In the end I do like Squid Game, it just isn’t great. To give it some credit it’s got a nice and unique look in its setting and costume design. I like the use of operatic classical music to make the setting of The Games a bit more creepy and off-putting. It’s really the writing for the story that lets it down in the end. So if you’re interested in watching Squid Game watch it with English subs rather than the English dub. Finally, if you’re in the majority that absolutely loves this show, and disagree with me if you want we can settle this in the comments because that always been a favourite past time of mine.
It’s good to be back, hopefully I can make some more posts in the build up to Halloween and until then I have been The Blog Complainer, signing out.