Capping off the Halloween watchlist this year was Hwang Dong-hyuk’s “Squid Game” (2021) which was (mostly) worth the hype. Don’t be discouraged by its campy visuals or its familiar premise. (Deathtrap game shows have been with us since at least the 1987 adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Running Man.”) This miniseries is truly good enough to be bingeworthy.
After a bit a slow start, there are visceral, inventive action-horror sequences and surprisingly effective character development. There’s some good acting too — most notably by Yeong-su Oh, as an ostensibly disadvantaged older contestant in the miniseries’ eponymous contest.
The “twists” and “layers” you might have heard about might be a bit overhyped. I predicted most of the big reveals, and I am no goddam Copernicus. (Ask anyone.) I actually wasn’t happy with the final reveal — I thought the story was stronger without it.
But “Squid Game” shines nonetheless, because it expertly capitalizes on the heartrending human drama that its premise allows for. It’s an unflinching (and occasionally touching) snapshot of its creators’ view of human nature — and that’s why it’s a superior horror thriller.