REVIEW: ‘Squid Game’ Is a Thriller Filled With Twists and Turns

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Squid Game

Content Warning: Squid Game contains scenes of torture and suicide

Squid Game is a Korean thriller series on Netflix. Gi-hun is down on his luck. Having gone through some hard times, he finds himself trapped under a mountain of debt that he has little hope of ever crawling out from under. But when he is told he can win a fortune by joining a game, Gi-hun takes his shot at winning his way to a better life. But little does he know just how murderous this game will be.

Between pandemics, recessions, and cultural strife, the world we live in has seen the gulf between the haves and the have nots grow wider than ever before. Just how agonizingly painful the stress of carrying the burdens of a bad decision or just plain old bad luck is being revealed to more people every day. But just how far might a person go to escape the inescapable debt they have accumulated? How far would they go to save a loved one from disease or give their sibling a better life? Would they die for it? Would they be willing to kill for it?

Squid Game centers its narrative around these very questions. By trapping its characters between the choices of a quick, painful death in its gauntlet of games, or the slow, soul-crushing grind of their ordinary existence, I caught myself more than once wondering if I had the choice, would I participate in the games?  As the players face one challenge after the next, the surprising variety and strange twists the games bring to the plot create numerous chilling moments where characters are forced to make truly heinous choices.

As Squid Game opens, the games that the players involve themselves in begin with over 400 participants. As one would expect, alliances and cliques quickly form…and broken. And while neither of these facts surprises me, the unexpected way the social connections between the various characters shift and transform as the challenges present themselves caught me up in the drama as it unfolds over the show’s nine-episode season. But while the main plot had me gripped, there is an unnecessary sub-plot that bogs down the whole affair.

Alongside the main narrative of the contestants surviving this harrowing series of games, we also see a cop who, due to believed connections between his missing brother and the games, sneaks into the arena to uncover what is going on. Although this sub-plot does deliver some tension, there is zero real impact on the larger story. As its final moments in the show rolled, I was left with little more than the overwhelming feeling of why?

The visuals in Squid Game leave little to the imagination. Every death, brutal injury, and dismemberment are shown to their full effect. This not only delivers shock but also highlights how terrifying the contests must find their lives to continue to face the obscene dangers of the games willingly.

The acting throughout the series does a fabulous job of delivering the brutal emotional and physical torture its cast goes through. However, even with the strong acting throughout, the series truly peaks when we are introduced to some of the individuals the games are being run for. The vile decadence and total disregard for human life that these characters display was nothing short of utterly repulsive.

So, except for a side plot that I felt ultimately amounted to little more than a waste of a significant chunk of the series’ time, Squid Game leaves little to complain about and much to be impressed by. As long as the quantity of blood and the depths of the emotional turmoil the show displays aren’t too much for you, there is little reason not to give this gem a watch.

Squid Game is streaming now on Netflix.

Squid Game
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

So, except for a side plot that I felt ultimately amounted to little more than a waste of a significant chunk of the series’ time, Squid Game leaves little to complain about and much to be impressed by. As long as the quantity of blood and the depths of the emotional turmoil the show displays aren’t too much for you, there is little reason not to give this gem a watch.