Are you a horror buff? Do you find yourself wishing that your favourite horror shows last more than 2 hours?
And more importantly, are you on Netflix?
If you find yourself nodding along to the first two questions, and shaking your head ruefully to the last one, what you’re going to read next might just make you sign up for a Netflix account immediately.
Sweet Home, The New Horror Sensation On Netflix
Sweet Home is Netflix’s latest contribution to the horror genre for dramas, with an intriguing storyline, an amazing South Korean cast and plenty of gore, heart-thumping moments and blood.
The drama is based on the popular Naver webtoon, Sweet Home, and the 10-episode drama series feature Song Kang (Love Alarm), Lee Jin Wook (Voice), Lee Si Young (Liver or Die) and Lee Do Hyun (18 Again, a really good drama about love, marriage and children) as the lead characters.
Sweet Home follows the story of an 18-year-old loner, Hyun Soo (Song Kang), who just moved into an old apartment complex called Green Home after the death of his family.
Hating life, he vows to end his own life at the end of the month and went to bed.
However, he woke up to a whole new world where people turns into monsters, taking the form of their hidden desires.
Instead of committing suicide, he and the rest of the apartment complex’s residents try to survive.
Lee Eung Bok
The name Lee Eung Bok might not mean much to you, but wait till you hear about his portfolio.
For this series, he had tried to showcase the “monsterisation” with the help of lights from outside the building, as well as the destruction and transformation of the building itself.
“The building had a shutter at the entrance at first, later replaced by walls, followed by the collapse and an open space. In the process, I tried to portray different stages of the sense of crisis felt by the residents with the changing lights and barricades.”
In a behind-the-scenes video by Netflix, Lee said that he was intrigued by all the events happening all in one building, and he relished the challenge of bringing it to the screen.
One thing that was also interesting, Lee said, and something he tried to incorporate, is the question: What is a monster?
“There is a line where a character says, some monsters don’t harm humans. I don’t think desires are all bad, and so something that looks like a monster is not always bad.”
Think Birdbox, just even more gruesome and terrifying.
And little wonder because the studio which worked on the creatures’ visual in the show is none other than Legacy Studio.
The studio has worked on a variety of notable films and series, including Captain Marvel, Godzilla, Terminator: Dark Fate, and more.
For Sweet Home, they designed the monsters based on their story when they were in human forms.
When Lee Do Hyun visited the set for the first time, he was utterly amazed.
“I was totally amazed when I visited the set for the first time. All of the monsters left a lasting impression on me, because I have never seen anything like that before.
“The lotus root monster was the first and also the most memorable monster I saw. It was amazing how the actor who played the monster performed so well despite not being able to see his surroundings very well.
“Also, the bloodsucking monster was so real that I thought to myself, ‘That cannot be human!’
According to the Korea Times, about 3 billion won (~S$3.6 million) was spent per episode.
Lee says that most of the budget was spent on special effects as it was really expensive to bring the monsters of desire to life, especially the one that shows human desire and lust.
Lee Jin Wook also commented that the “gigantic studio for Sweet Home” was a “rare size for a TV series”, and it has “spaces that are filled with CGI effects”.
A Lot Of Effort Went Into The Monsters
It wasn’t just special effects and crafting the monsters.
A lot of work went into bringing them to life too, other than special effects.
The director engaged Korean choreographer and dancer Kim Seol-jin to work together with the actors within the monsters to get the movements right.
For the spider-like monster (that’s all I’ll reveal to prevent spoilers), American contortionist Troy James was cased.
He had previously used his bendy body for movies like Hellboy, as well as American TV shows like The Strain and The Flash.
Trained In Martial Arts For Six Months
Lee Si Young is the girl crush of the show, and rightly so.
She’s always been known to be an extremely active actress well-versed in boxing and takedown moves
But for this series, she went a step further.
She attended action school and began preparing for the action scenes six months before the filming.
While no one had told her how much body fat to lose, her trainer told her that she has to have about 8 to 9 per cent body fat for her muscles to show, so she started bulking up and adjusted her diet for the filming.
Bet you couldn’t tell she’s 38 years old and a mother of one, could you?
As you can probably tell from the article, attention was paid to even the littlest detail, including the apartment complex the story took place in.
According to the director, they had looked at a lot of buildings before coming up with a workable set based on a building built back in the 1930s.
They’ve also hidden some features in the building which, he hopes, that viewers will have fun finding.
Lee had worked on the script for almost eight months, even overtaking the webtoon episodes at one point.
So keep your eyes peeled when you watch the series because you might just discover one of the many hidden easter eggs promised.
No Plans For The Second Season
While episode 10 of Sweet Home contains unsolved clues (what’s new, Netflix?), director Lee says that he has no immediate plans for a second season.
He said that he’s studying the reviews from this season first, both good and bad.
After the season, he added, he might just go on to film the second season, but nothing is confirmed yet lah.
We just hope that this won’t turn into the second Vagabond, another Netflix series which still does not have any news about a second season and yet ended with a big question mark.
So much went into the TV series, so has it paid off?
Apparently, it has.
Released on 18 Dec 2020, the series became the third most-watched TV show and ranked top in 10 countries, including Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.
It is also the first South Korean TV series to enter the top 10 list in Netflix US and was in the top 10 list for forty-two different regions.
Here, you can watch the trailer for Sweet Home below:
Featured Image: kdramapal