If there could have been at least one positive about 2020, it is that all that time at home allowed us to expand our horizons in terms of what we consume as entertainment. While we have always been intrigued by Eastern entertainment through mediums of Chinese films, Japanese anime, and K-Pop, Korean television is not something we thought we could get into. However, due to the overindulgence of webcomics via the Korean-American online publishing platform Webtoon, we had to check this out. Sweet Home isn’t just for Alabama anymore.
Loneliness Feeds Desire?
Throughout this Korean horror-thriller, we follow the story of loner Cha Hyun-Soo, a hikikomori who moves into his own apartment after his family is tragically killed in a car accident. Living a quiet life secluded and wallowing in misery, Hyun-Soo’s goal is to just survive until his intended suicide, marked on his calendar. However, that peaceful pit of despair is thrown into chaos as a “curse” ravages South Korea with people turning into monsters. Their shapes and stats based on their untold desires, these monsters ravage throughout the apartment building and slaughter any survivors in their path. Will Hyun-Soo give up on his suicide and choose life or will he continue to wallow until he meets his demise?
As part of Webtoon’s most recent initiatives, Sweet Home is their latest project to be adapted to a brand new medium for wide distribution. The series originally took the form of a manhwa (Korean manga) written by Kim Carnby and illustrated by Hwang Young-chan from 2017 to late 2020. While we thought that Sweet Home was going to receive the Crunchyroll treatment and go down the anime well, but when we saw a live-action was in the works we were definitely skeptical. However, while the live-action adaptation strays away from the manhwa, the show does give a wink to the readers by featuring Kim and Hwang’s previous work Bastard being read by a character in the show. You can read both series on the Webtoon platform and we recommend spending the time to support the author and see their original version of the Sweet Home story.
Alright, we know that on first glance Sweet Home has a very familiar plot that feels completely overdone to all hell. Sweet Home is a very character-driven show, with most of the characters’ actuals actually affecting the events of the story. Due to this fact, the casting had to be precise to fit the narrative that was laid out before them by Kim and Hwang. The show features a very strong core cast, embodying the main five characters as if they were lifted directly from the page. We hated/pitied Cha Hyun-Soo (played by Song Kang) just like we thought the first time around, while relating to the survivors’ impromptu leader Lee Eun-hyuk (Lee Do-hyun) coldness and analytical approach to survival.
We are going to preface this right now if you are queasy when it comes to blood, gore, and body horror, Sweet Home is definitely not for you. One of the initial symptoms of “monsterization” is a major nosebleed, blood almost comically stains the characters faces (as well as their teeth…yuck). After the first time we saw it, we couldn’t stop wondering many gallons of prop blood did they have to keep on set because these episodes are littered with blood and body parts. Sweet Home doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to lopping off the limbs of their survivors and putting them in life or death situations, embracing core body horror elements we know and love.
Adaptations are Difficult…
If you fell in love with Sweet Home through the original manwha, you may not be thrilled with how many changes have been made for this adaptation. It looks like Webtoon is learning from their mistakes, including severe pacing issues that have plagued their other projects like God of High School and Noblesse. A major chunk of Sweet Home was cut in order to keep a cohesive flow and we still enjoyed the experience. The adaptation process is definitely not an easy one, especially since this first 10 episode season covers about 140 chapters of the original version.
While we thoroughly enjoyed about 90% of Sweet Home, there is a solid 10% that we could definitely live without. The original authors Kim and Hwang do go to plenty of lengths to showcase human depravity and how monsters are not necessarily the villains in the story. While reading through the manhwa, certain scenes involving a few of the human characters don’t have as much of an impact, until it changes mediums. Towards the end of the show’s first season, the level of disgust we felt towards the “villains” made us visibly uncomfortable. Never have we yelled “what the F^%K?” at the screen in so much disgust.
On the production side, you better get used to listening to Imagine Dragons. What seems like a creative choice due to budget constraints, the only major track that appears throughout Sweet Home is “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons. While we really do enjoy the track, listening to it multiples times each episode is a bit overkill. You know it is an important scene when the Dragons show up.
Should You Stream It?
Overall if you are looking for a definitely exhilarating series to binge, definitely give Sweet Home a shot. Due to its distribution via Netflix, the series is offered in both native Korean as well as dubbed English. The series does occasionally misstep and fall into the traditional horror tropes but does its best to dig itself out of any holes it falls into. A solid cast of characters and an interesting mystery are what await you, all you have to is push play. Just don’t slip on the blood as you walk through the door.
Who am I? Just some guy who decided to start writing on the Internet years ago and now operates his own brand and site. Owner/Operator of Modern Neon Media, I make all kinds of niche content to suit my interests at the time. DIY Enthusiast, Brewmaster extraordinaire, and avid freak for geek culture. Follow on my socials for a more “on” version of me.