By Lila Raff
Warning: mild spoilers ahead.
Netflix is notorious for their controversial movies and riveting original shows, and Squid Game is no different. Released on September 17, 2021, it stayed number one on Netflix’s charts for 24 days, only second to the Queen’s Gambit record of 47 days. Directed by South Korean filmmaker Hwang Dong-hyuk, the show made just shy of 900 million USD in its first month.
The show focuses on a group of 456 Koreans deep in debt. They’re first tricked into a tournament of children’s games, like the classic Red Light, Green Light or marbles. There’s only one drawback — those eliminated aren’t only expelled from the games — they get murdered. The players take a vote to leave after realizing the deadly nature of the games, and are set free back into the real world. This only leaves them to realize how miserable their lives are and how desperately they need the prize of the games — 45 billion South Korean won ($38 million USD). Make no mistake, the contestants are only there if they want to be. But the odds of survival aren’t good, after all, out of 456 people, there will be only one survivor: the winner.
Although there were well over 500 characters (including the guards of the games), the story focuses on around ten people. The show takes time to delve further into players’ lives outside of the games, which gives viewers a better idea of each character’s motivations for competing, and for their actions while playing. Our main protagonist is Gi-Hun, a deadbeat father with a serious gambling addiction. The large ensemble consists of his allies, enemies, and a select few running the games.
The acting in Squid Game isn’t the worst to ever hit the screens, but it certainly was far from the best. While the players manage to capture the tension and high emotions, the dialogue can feel stilted and feigned at times, especially when it comes to the VIPs — wealthy Americans who come to spectate the games firsthand. In fact, one of the biggest criticisms of the show has been its poor transcription into English, or “dub.” Many felt that there was a lot lost in translation. The good chemistry between the characters outweighs the less than perfect acting, though.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Squid Game. The captivating plot is well worth the watch, and I found myself at the edge of my seat multiple times throughout the experience. A slight warning — it can get very bloody and graphic at times (every episode). Still, the storyline moves quickly, the characters work well together, and the ending is a bigger plot twist than you could ever imagine.