By Bryan Tan
This recap contains spoilers and covers episodes 5-10 of Sweet Home, which is currently available on Netflix. Read our review of the first four episodes of Sweet Home here.
Sweet Home has been number one on Netflix for almost two weeks since its release and I can clearly see why.
There is nary a lull in the series as director Lee Eung Bok takes us through one breakneck scene after the next. Green Home’s residents are still trying to catch their breath as they try to keep their lives while a series of traumatising events assail them.
Handicapped ex-soldier/uncle Han Du Sik (Kim Sang Ho) finds that the lady (Lee Bong Ryun) whom he left to guard the two children Cha Hyun Soo (Song Kang) rescued has evolved into something that’s a monster, but not the average conscious or blood-thirsty type.
Lee Eun Hyeok (Lee Do Hyun) sends Hyun Soo to clear out Green Home apartment complex of its unwelcome mutated guests. Hyun Soo and gangster Sang Wook (Lee Jin Wook) divide and conquer, only to find more residents who are on the same mission. The newcomers rally with them and rendezvous at handicapped uncle’s place.
Eun Hyeok struggles as the de-facto leader to keep the residents under control as Sang Wook has a violent altercation with another resident. Hyun Soo decides to lock himself away from the rest of the residents to avoid his mutation from potentially killing other residents.
New threats emerge in Green Home
The residents of level one stage a rather hilarious mock exercise to prepare for future assaults from monsters. Former fire fighter Seo Yi Kyung (Lee Si Young) finds incriminating evidence on the origins of the monsters on her fiancé’s blog, and becomes the first resident to leave Green Home to investigate. Talk about folly.
Eun Hyeok enforces an emergency strategy for all residents which include rationing food and temperature taking. Hyun Soo continues to scour Green Home for monsters to dispatch and at the same time scavenges for essentials for the residents.
At the same time, he also wrestles with his inner mutation, who speaks to him like an evil voice, urging him to give into his desires and fully mutate into a monster. While he’s scavenging, a new monster is discovered in the basement carpark with incredible speed and horse-like legs. Another spider monster emerges from the bowels of the boiler room and attacks handicapped uncle and tries to eat the children.
Sweet Home really draws you into the lives of every character with their acting and creates a deep bond; one that makes you feel and fear for them as the series progresses and their situations rapidly degenerate.
A one man (or monster?) army
Hyun Soo, Sang Wook and Eun Hyeok fight desperately for their lives as the horse monster calls forth more monsters in the basement carpark. The residents on level one panic as the spider monster wreaks havoc and destroys their supplies.
Hyun Soo’s regenerative mutation comes in handy as he fights off both monsters to save the other residents. Yet, the residents still fear and distrust him, insisting that he be locked up after every sortie. Such is the baseness of human nature – if you don’t understand something, lock it up, make use of it or kill it!
Yi Kyung is caught by soldiers from the army, who string her up and threaten her for information on Green Home and the partially mutated Hyun Soo in exchange for revealing her fiancé’s whereabouts.
Eun Hyeok makes plans for a select group of residents to leave Green Home and forage for supplies. Yoon Ji Su (Park Gyu Young) a.k.a bassist girl has appendicitis and everyone prepares for a dangerous surgery without any anaesthesia, carried out by aspiring medical student Eun Hyeok who has never seen a surgery done before, much less assisted in one.
A new monster makes an appearance
The scavenging team is attacked by the muscle monster, which is still very much alive and well despite seemingly being despatched earlier. Yi Kyung returns to Green Home and confronts Hyun Soo about his mutation and the voice that speaks to him.
An intruder who appears to be a runaway soldier from the army breaks into Green Home. In order not to alert the army to their whereabouts for fear of being culled, Hyun Soo and Sang Wook move to take down the SOS sign draped over the side of the complex.
A new monster rears its ugly head; the disillusioned and bullied security guard transforms into a weed-cutter swinging maniac and attacks, leaving pastor katana (Kim Nam Hee) to defend the rest.
A group of outlaws take over Green Home
Tragedy strikes as a stolen armoured tank crashes into the barricaded main entrance of Green Home, destroying all the makeshift fortifications the residents have built. From the tank emerges a group of cold-blooded outlaws with semi-automatic rifles, who proceed to round up the residents while shooting indiscriminately at them.
Yi Kyung avoids being captured and uses the stolen rifle from the previous intruder to distract some of the outlaws, while Eun Hyeok and Hyun Soo deal with the remainder. It turns out that one of the outlaws, Jung Ui Myeong (Kim Sung Cheol), is also a partially mutated human with much more control over his powers.
He tries to persuade Hyun Soo to join his ranks and stays at Green Home for a spell. Ui Myeong also reveals that the army has sinister plans for the populace, and that rescue efforts will not be forthcoming.
It is here that we can see director Lee’s detailed efforts in portraying the lawlessness of the apocalypse, where everyone is fair game and the strong take what they want from others without hesitation.
Who are the real monsters?
The Green Home residents turn their efforts toward patching up the wounded and fixing up the apartments, even gratuitously killing a green slime monster that saved one of the children previously with a flamethrower.
Ui Myeong shows his true colours, turning on the residents using his powers in an attempt to force Hyun Soo to join him. Hyun Soo fights back and almost fully turns, but manages to fend him off after a desperate and costly struggle.
The army finally arrives at Green Home and sets up a perimeter blockade. The residents discover an alternative exit to escape from the army, but Hyun Soo is sent towards the army with their rifles trained to shoot on sight, unable to discern human from monster.
Sweet Home ends abruptly on a cliffhanger. While Netflix hasn’t announced that it’s renewing the series for a second season, that seems likely since the show has proven so popular.
Despite the lack of a compelling storyline, director Lee wanted to show that life is lived in the moment. There are no plans; just the overwhelming and desperate human instinct to survive in a hostile world.
The cast delivered powerful portrayals of the baseness of human nature at its best. Whether it is to sacrifice a member to ensure the survival of the rest, or to extend a kind hand to forgive someone for their mistakes; each actor played a crucial part in conveying the loss, warmth, hurt, anger, and frustration that often control us, turning us into monsters of our own.