Movie review: “Squid Game”

Series from Korea attracts an international audience


Christian Lo, Film Critic

Following its premiere on Netflix last month, the new series “Squid Game” quickly gained traction and has become a global phenomenon, with millions of people watching and obsessing over the Korean series. The show contains a rather disturbing plot, putting characters in a cruel game show where losing results in death, and winning promises immeasurable wealth for the winner.

What is interesting about the series is that it isn’t cruel for cruelty’s sake, but rather utilizes the environment it creates to explore deeper themes such as humanity (or rather inhumanity), morality and economic inequality.

The show contains outstanding performances from its Korean actors, who convey the desperation of their perilous situations perfectly. The standout performance in the series was definitely from Park Hae Soo, who plays the part of a businessman who has lost everything. Hints of his true nature peek out in his performance at the beginning of the show, before revealing itself to the audience as the plot progresses. Another notable performance was from Ho Yeon Jung, who did an amazing job in her first role as an actor.

The exposition of the television series introduces viewers to Gi-Hun, who is depicted as a selfish, ungrateful failure who lives in his mom’s house, ruined by an enormous amount of debt. He, along with many others who are losing within society, are offered a spot in a competition where contestants compete with each other to the death in children’s games in order to gain a large monetary prize that will transform the life of the winner.

I was kept on the edge of my sofa watching the series, which contrasts the horrific events occurring throughout the show with calming classical music, sets filled with vibrant colors, and kid games that would be enjoyable if it were not for the thick wall of looming death surrounding them. The show slowly but surely loses its grip on moral values, utilizing increased pressure and the fear of death to push characters over the edge. In the midst of the atrocities being committed on one another within the game lies Gi-Hun, the audience’s only tether to any sense of compassion. The series made me uncomfortable by highlighting the dark side of human nature, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying the plot.

I also enjoyed the connections to the real world that “Squid Game” made. Often, dystopian type TV shows and movies are disconnected from reality and seem unrealistic. While such a disconnection from reality has its own benefits, “Squid Game” is able to accomplish an uneasy feeling in viewers as they watch atrocious acts upon humanity unfold within the games. The compassion and desire to help one another slowly disappear as the games progress, revealing a primal, cruel human nature that causes people to abandon morals and do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.

“Squid Game” pushes the boundaries of what a game show usually is beyond its limits, creating a hell-like environment that viewers can’t look away from. The show questions prevalent aspects of our society today, such as the increasing divide between the rich and the poor, the increase in violence that audiences desire in film and television, and the profiting off of the misfortunes of others, making a statement about human nature and the struggle between the civil and primal nature of humanity.

If you are able to, watch the TV series in Korean with subtitles on. Hearing the full emotions expressed through the actors’ own voices adds to the viewing experience, and unfortunately, the dubbed version features some subpar voice acting.

All in all, “Squid Game” is a show that will stand the test of time. The large fan base it has gained in only a month is testament to the greatness of the Netflix series, and it will only continue to grow in popularity. I would strongly recommend setting time aside to watch all nine episodes of an extremely enjoyable series.