For my first Kdrama of 2021, I decided to go with supernatural drama The Guest. I’ve been meaning to see it for a while but it was just recently released on Netflix.
Synopsis: When he was little, Yoon Hwa Pyung (Kim Dong Wook) was visited (possessed) by a powerful evil spirit named Park Il Do. Because of this, his mother and grandmother die, his father abandons him and he is left under the care of his elderly grandfather. He makes it his life mission to hunt down and end the malevolent spirit’s reign of terror. He gets help from priest Choi Yoon (Kim Jae Wook) and a detective Kang Kil Young (Jung Eun Chae), who both lost their family to Park Il Do.
I liked the treatment for The Guest. It was dark. It was broody and it effectively depicted the horror of demonic possession. It was also extremely violent even with the murder weapons blurred by OCN. All the stabbing would really bother people who have weak stomachs.
At times, it was frustrating how the characters reacted to the situations. Hwa Pyung rushes to the scene unmindful of how his presence would seem suspicious to the police; Kil Young beats up anyone who stands in her way and sticks her nose on everything without minding her jurisdiction, and Choi Yoon easily believes in his mentors. He is too gullible for his own good. On the one hand, audiences will understand why they are easily triggered by any hint of Park Il Do. On the other, its frustrating how their emotions and arguments really cost them a lot of precious time.
And what’s with the lack of communication? Three protagonists are working as a team but they never share their plans with each other, so eager are they to sacrifice themselves to protect the others.
Of all the characters, I was particularly drawn to Hwa Pyung, not just because he lost his family to the spirit but because he carried around all of the guilt and responsibility of protecting his friends as he took them deeper into his dangerous mission.
On the other hand, I felt that he was lucky to have met such loyal friends in his journey. Yuk Gwang, Choi Yoon and Yil Gwang — everyone was just as ready to lay their lives on the line for Hwa Pyung as he was to sacrifice his life to keep them safe.
I was impressed with Kim Dong Wook’s portrayal of Hwa Pyung — his charm, his intensity and his rawness. I was just as impressed with Kim Jae Wook. These two had such great chemistry that fans of the show made MVs about their relationship. Jung Eun Chae also deserves credit for her portrayal of her character. It was not easy to keep her two companions in check but she managed to do it. Her vulnerability at seeing her partner hurt was heartbreaking. However, I would have to say that Yuk Gwang was the secret MVP of this drama. He provided comic relief but his dramatic scenes were definitely the highlight of this series.
The drama did a great job in setting up the story by revealing layer upon layer of the plot, carefully giving a taste of Park Il Do’s power until the final four episodes when he pits his three adversaries against each other and uses his full strength against them. He unleashes hordes of evil spirits for massacres at every turn and kills so many people that all of the efforts to save the possessed in the first few episode seemed pitiful.
The mystery element was masterful. It kept viewers on their toes as they continued to guess who was telling the truth and telling a lie. The filmmakers were able to exhibit the deceit by the demon as he orchestrated complete mayhem around the three main characters. Viewers will definitely feel the helplessness of Hwa Pyung, Choi Yoon and Kil Young as they try to face Park Il Do head on.
Without giving too much away, I loved how the drama ended. It was as good as it was going to get for this type of dark drama. Great performances from the main cast to the supporting characters. Excellent character development and treatment. Engaging story. This was a definite thumbs up for me.
PS. All the possessed actors deserve a shoutout for their amazing portrayals in the series. The shifts from crazy to vulnerable took a lot of great acting and each cast member delivered on their roles with flying colors.
PPS. There is no romance angle in this series so if you’re looking for a love story, move along.