I have always been a fan of foreign cinema and television, particularly properties from Japan and France. However, it wasn’t until I sat down to watch the high-octane and dramatic zombie thriller Train to Busan (2016) that Korean properties really grabbed my attention and instantly captivated me. A big appeal to Korean films and shows is that, unlike a lot of American shows and movies, the creators in South Korea have a much better grasp on tension and horror—most all of these films and shows rely on atmosphere and story as opposed to the Western-jumpscare style. Netflix’s newest Korean show, Sweet Home, continues this theme and has become a show that I cannot wait until the next season.
Sweet Home follows a high-school student, Hyun (played by Song Kang), who has suffered a terrible tragedy and is now alone, living in an apartment counting down the days before he commits suicide. Suddenly, his sad life is thrown into a world where people all around him are turning into monsters based on their deepest desires. Hyun must team up with the remaining survivors in the apartment complex in order to stay alive.
This show is grade-A monster horror. From the monster designs to the set pieces where our characters must face them, Sweet Home is filled with fantastic suspense and thrills. Perhaps the greatest part of this show, however, are the character moments that take place away from the action. Each and every character in this show brings a new a layer of humanity to the situation around them, even though several of these characters are there simply for comedic relief and to show incompetence. The main group of leads carry this show to many different layers of emotion and drama and make you feel for all of these characters and feel the stakes of every action that every character makes.
Sweet Home is not without its faults however. Being a foreign, Netflix production many cgi scenes are not to the quality that audiences here in the US are used to. The cgi not being great for several scenes can definitely take you out of a scene, but not as nearly as much as the show’s use of “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons. The music score in the show is actually quite good, but this show plays “Warriors” almost every other episode AND it plays in scenes that should have been full of suspense and emotion. It is so bad, that scenes, that otherwise would have been intense and unforgettably beloved by fans, are reduced to either laughable or groan inducing jokes. I honestly believe that they used this song simply to “appeal” to Western audiences, much like how Train to Busan: Peninsula (2020)—a movie so disappointing that I refused to review it here on the site—clearly had, poorly acted, English lines of dialogue just to try and reclaim the American audience they captured with their original.
Other than a few incredibly annoying characters and the issues previously stated, this show is an incredible, horror-filled thrill ride that is a must-watch for fans of both horror and K-drama fans. Personally, I haven’t read the manhwa (Korean comic) on Webtoon that was the source material for the show, so, I have no idea where this show is going in a season 2, but you can be sure that I will be watching it on day one whenever it comes. Here’s hoping they leave that Imagine Dragons song in season 1 though.