Netflix’s new series “Sweet Home” is the talk of town, having been released 10 days ago, its topping Netflix charts across the globe and breaking records.
Like with every kdrama I finish, I write a review and “Sweet Home” is no exception. I am here to discuss my thoughts on the webtoon adapation of the same title and why I think its imperfect but genuinely an amazing experience.
Note: this is a spoiler review.
Note: I didn’t read the webtoon but consulted my friend (@netizendrama) who helped me out a lot and explained to me some of the most crucial parts of the webtoon and how the adaptation differs. I take this in mind while discussing the drama.
Table of Contents:
- What I liked
- The core idea
- What makes “Sweet Home” so special
- The characters
- The performances
- What I disliked
- The CGI- imperfect but tolerable
- Developing the plot from logical to ridiculous and over-the-top
What I liked
The core idea
I must admit I am jealous, I am jealous of the original webtoon writer who came up with such an interesting idea. I also write and dream of publishing my novels one day, the core idea itself is AMAZING and can be morphed into so many things.
They’re not aliens and not zombies, they are made of human desire and everyone becomes a manifestation of their own desire, such an interesting concept to work with, you’ll never run out of ideas with the right setting.
The fact that it does this immediately sets it apart from any other post-apocalyptic movie/drama and gives it an edge that others don’t have anymore because we’ve become so used to such ideas getting repeated in slasher Hollywood movies.
I would’ve loved them to have delved even deeper to what makes a monster and why some succeed at resisting it, while they did explain the core idea, it was confusing especially at the start, I didn’t watch the webtoon so it wasn’t clear to me that the monsters differ depending on each human’s desire.
According to my friend Nina (@netizendrama), its no as easy as you’d think it is to resist monsterisation, also, in the webtoon, monsters could become human again.
Of course, in retrospect, it was almost going to be impossible to unwrap the majority of the webtoon essence in 10 episodes or so, we needed at least 14 episodes to correctly explore the idea and flesh out the characters properly. Of course, I understand why this would be very difficult considering the budget of each episode.
What makes “Sweet Home” so special
I generally like webtoon adaptations because they have great topics, “Sweet Home” is something I wouldn’t have expected to be made into a drama but it has been done and I am so happy it did. “Sweet Home” is one of my top 5 Korean dramas of 2020, easily.
I can confidently say that 2020 has been a great year for kdramas unless you’re extremely picky, whether the dramas kept up the same enthusiasm or not throughout their runtime, many of this year’s kdramas had splendid ideas that stray away from the typical route.
“Sweet Home” feels like a Korean movie at times, if you watch Korean movies you’ll understand what I mean by that. It doesn’t skimp on the horror/gore aspects and it doesn’t censor anything. Originally, I was not a fan of Netflix aggressive expansion but this year, they showed me what they could bring to the table and I think it’s really needed for the industry as a whole.
Since it’s a Netflix adaptation, the drama stuck to its core and delivered the essence of the drama, something I don’t think would’ve been possible had it not been a Netflix adaptation.
While watching “Sweet Home” you can easily tell everyone is putting in 110%, even if it doesn’t land the way you expect it to, you can still see just how hard everyone is trying and there is no way I could’ve neglected to mention that.
The plot, the acting, the directing and the production was amazing and I am so happy I got to watch such a drama.
This is my second favorite part of the series; the characters really elevate the drama. I would’ve never expected Hyun Su to turn out so dormant and so harmless. I really like the idea that he’s not the hero you’d expect in such a setting and instead of leading the pack, he’s being led, that’s brilliant.
In the webtoon, I was made aware that he’s more cunning and there are more mind games taking place between him and Eun Hyeok, but I like this version better, it makes his character all more enduring.
I really liked how they tried to create an arc for every character and how they tried their best to properly flesh them out. With so many characters, it must’ve not been an easy thing but for the most part, I’d say they’ve done a good job.
Hyun Su’s character was the one that had the most time to get properly fleshed out; he goes through a complete transformation at the end of the series. I really loved Eun Hyeok and Eun Yu’s characters and I thought they deserved to have their story fleshed out better.
My favorite character is the grieving mother who lost her one year old child. The guilt she felt and how she dealt with her pain really struck a core with me.
It’s not easy to find a kdrama that does such a good job making use of the supporting characters beyond just using them for filler scenes or as plot devices.
Also, “Sweet Home” includes a wide range of powerful capable women, I was so happy to see that. With the exception of few men, most of them are cowards, meanwhile, women not only actively cooperate but also lead and initiate action, I loved how they didn’t portray women as weaklings that need a saving.
I heard a lot of my friends discuss a rising actor named Song Kang. This was my introduction to him and oh boy, am I in love or WHAT!!!!
Choosing him as the lead was probably a risky move, he’s only a rising actor and has been in the industry for merely 3 years, to lead a $27 million drama opposite a cast that’s obviously more experienced than him must’ve presented a huge challenge.
I am so glad they chose him. The reason I watched this drama wasn’t the cast but the story, I think it’s even better they chose someone who’s still relatively new to the industry because it’ll help the viewers focus on Hyun Su rather than the man behind him, and that helps immerse you in the story even more.
Lee Do Hyun is a gem. I can’t begin to praise him enough; he’s been active since late 2017 and look at him, he’s truly a star in the making. I can’t believe this is a performance by a rookie actor, I just can’t. He pulled off the character so well and gave it so much depth with his approach.
Kim Nam Hee played such a sweet character and I balled my eyes out when he died. He’s just so cute and wholesome that you can’t help but love him. He’s now on my radar as well.
Go Min Si’s character had the most punchable face ever. She is a great actress and has been on my radar, she will become huge one day if she picks the right projects.
Park Gyu Young’s performance in this drama was probably her best to date.
It goes without saying that Lee Jin Wook and Lee Si Young were marvelous, it’s expected of them. I really liked Lee Jin Wook’s character, he’s a man of few words but damn it, his eyes deliver.
Rookie actress Ko Yoon Jung also put on an amazing performance in the drama. Kim Sung Cheol is marvelous; when I saw him I was so happy because I could tell he was going to do a great job. I hope he picks more bad guy roles in the future, he’s so fun to watch.
What I disliked
The CGI- imperfect but tolerable
With $2.7 million spent per episode, “Sweet Home” is the most expensive original Netflix Korean drama production to date. Let’s break down who worked on what.
Hollywood special effects studio Legacy Effects worked on the monsters, they’re known for their works on the “Avengers,” “Avatar” and “X-Men.”
The visuals for the protein monster and spider monster were created by Spectral Motion, which worked on the Netflix series “Stranger Things.”
Korean VFX team Westworld worked on the computer graphics.
Personally speaking, I never found the “Avengers” CGI revolutionary to begin with; it was always okay but could’ve been better. What I didn’t like about the monsters in “Sweet Home” was the rendering and the color palette used. I really didn’t like how the monsters colors turned out, it made them appear more alien and comical.
Let me explain.
The colors on the skin of the monsters were very weirdly processed, below you’ll see a screenshot of the monsters in their real colors before rendering and the final touches [taken from Netflix sharing bts footage of the shooting], notice how they look a lot more realistic and scarier that way. They really didn’t need to process the monsters through more graphics because the base sculptures they used were realistic enough.
The spider monster, slime monster and the protein monster were the least convincing and my least favorites. When the protein monster appeared, I laughed because he was so hilarious and kinda cute at times which I don’t think was what the creators wanted to hear.
The battle between the protein monster and the cast at the end of the drama was also not that convincing for obvious reasons; they didn’t have anything on the set to work with and it visibly shows through the final results.
Making “Sweet Home” was going to be a challenge and obviously needed dispensable cash which Netflix had, no matter how much I didn’t like the CGI at times, I was still so appreciative of the work everyone has put in. “Sweet Home” was a great challenge and something that is not easy to remake.
Also, it doesn’t deserve its own subcategory because its nitpicky on my part, but the blood gushing part was very distracting and not inserted properly, it would’ve been better had it been more subtle. Also, would’ve loved for more Korean OST instead of using Imagine Dragons songs.
Developing the plot from logical to ridiculous and over-the-top
“Sweet Home” is by no means a perfect drama; it had many issues with its script some of which stem from the limitation imposed by adapting such premise to begin with. However, there were parts that could’ve been done a lot better regardless.
I liked the first episodes more than the last episodes because it started to get ridiculous towards the end. Let’s explore each point separately. [this will not deal with the characters development]
“Sweet Home” begins by following the route I expected from it [logical despite the premise], it explores how real human beings would react in such situations.
Taking every injury as seriously as it could, it tries to represent what would actually happen if we were placed in such a situation, not overly dramatized or void of logic.
ignoring the existing monsters
The last 3 episodes annoyed me at times, starting with the surgery that should’ve been impossible to carry out, added to that, Ji Su is critically injured but still manages to get kicked multiple times in the injured area but survives.
Towards the end, the drama forgets that it has monsters. They killed off the protein monster but it doesn’t mean that no other monsters came in the premise after hearing the commission, however, a bunch of crazy ass gangster show up to terrorize them and it felt so out of place and unnecessary at that stage, as far as my friend told me, it does happen in the webtoon, but the webtoon ran for so long they had proper time to explore and explain it, however, to introduce such an idea so late in the series for the sake of a climax was poorly done.
If they wanted to use this part of the webtoon, they should’ve at least added two more episodes to properly explain it and flesh out the story. Crazy people running around in a tank killing as many people as possible and using their fingerprints to try and open a briefcase doesn’t add up. We still don’t know what the briefcase is for or why they do what they do.
Their method of action is so comical and incomprehensible, even if the monsters disappeared because they were eaten by the protein monster, more should’ve come the moment they heard a commission. The fact that such a messy team was able to survive thus far doesn’t make sense.
Ui Myeong killing everybody
My friend explained that Ui Myeong had a redemption arc at the end of the original webtoon and that there was humanity left in him and he sacrifices himself at the end.
when we’re first introduced into his character, Ui Myeong doesn’t seem to go out of his way to harm anybody, and at several points saves characters in this drama, notably Hyun Su.
When he starts to convince Hyun Su of leaving, I was very intrigued and loved their dynamics. He’s scared he’d be put back and tortured so I understand he’s on edge, but considering the fact that he appears to be smart, not dumb. Shooting the people in the place was such an odd thing to do.
Like Hyun Su said, even if Sang Wook leaves and tells on them, they’d be gone by then. Since this is a post-apocalyptic world, they won’t be easy to relocate once they disappear. Why did he believe he had to shoot the members who haven’t even begun to show any signs of wanting to hand him in? He can see how much they care for Hyun Su, so his actions were uncalled for and it bothered me.
It was at this point it became apparent that more than one person was involved in writing the script. A total of three people are credited for writing the script for the webtoon adaptation. It appears that there were differing opinions on how they should handle the final episodes, it appears very messy and as if every one of them suggested an idea and they decided to mesh them together.
And now onto my least favorite plot device, the military.
This part almost made me dislike the series because of how badly it’s been done, the worst part is it doesn’t make an ounce of sense and in the original webtoon, the military are good people.
If we approach this logically, the military should’ve never done this, taking the idea people going through monsterization and torturing them to find out a way to stop it aside, it doesn’t make sense that they’re against the people at such crucial time.
Since it’s not a disease but a curse, no one knows who’s gonna turn or when, to imply that the military will kill the people who are still alive if they fail to hand them someone who’s becoming a monster isn’t logical. Implying they’d kill their own people if they fail to handle the situation, humans or monsters doesn’t add up.
At such times, persevering and protecting as many people as they possibly could will ensure the human race survives or not, taking such approach is like shooting yourself in the foot. Regardless of how terrible the military is at any country, I highly doubt any military personal with a functioning brain would suggest killing as many as humanly possible as if this resolves anything.
It would’ve been better had they taken this chance to paint the military as the good guys who save them from the gangsters who showed up.
So these are my thoughts on “Sweet home,”, so what about you guys? did you like the episodes? let me know what you thought in the comment section below.