Let me be clear: Squid Game on Netflix is not what I expected whatsoever. I went into the series completely blind, only hearing/reading rumblings of this new South Korean show and how it is blowing up. Knowing full well I was going to give it a shot and see what all the fuss is about, I immediately decided to avoid all discussion, articles, and more importantly, any spoilers.
For some reason, though, I thought Squid Game was an actual game show – a real one, not a game show within a TV series. The colourful imagery used in promotional material and the title itself made me think it might be something similar to Takeshi's Castle (or the poor man's version, Total Wipeout) but a little darker. Oh, how I was in for a surprise when the opening began and I quickly became aware that this was a Netflix TV series with all the bells and whistles.
Okay, fine. I'll give it a chance. Nine 60-minute episodes! Good lord. The unlikelihood I would see this all the way through began to mount. Even so, I was intrigued. While the first half of the episode all felt reasonably familiar territory, it was the introduction of a mysterious suited man and the game of Ddakji (a children game where you flip over a folded origami tile) that kept me from switching off. Here, protagonist Gi-Hun could earn money from beating the mysterious fellow or could put his body on the line if he loses.
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This quickly escalates as Gi-Hun is offered the chance to make more money in exchange for taking part in more games. Fast forward and the character has been kidnapped along with 455 other contestants, all to play a twisted version of Red Light, Green Light where if you make one wrong move – you are shot dead on the spot. Carnage naturally ensues as soon as everyone panics, equalling the unholiest of bloodbaths.
Honestly, what a bombshell! The last 20 minutes of Squid Game are tremendous in terms of shock value. It's fair to say I was expecting something to be up but I was not ready for the battle royale version of Saw.
Hundreds of bodies flying around the screen followed by one of the tensest closing minutes to a Netflix opener I've seen for a long, long time. It looks to have resonated with audiences too, having released globally on September 17th and already having earned itself the accolade of being the first South Korean series to the top Netflix charts in the US.
Speaking at the Code 2021 conference, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos revealed that the series has a "very good chance" of becoming Netflix's most popular show to date (via CNET). I can see why. Squid Game is not here to mess around. That's it I'm in. I have to find out what other psychotic games are planned and where this all leads to, Damn you, Netflix!