A fantasy crime drama about a mysterious object who can revive people, both good and bad, and a group of people who try to stop a serial killer.

Review : By txc_vertigo (link)

The Good:

(1) The Metamorphosis reference and parallels. In one scene, we see the antagonist Oh Yeong Cheol reading “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka in a café. This gives us some insight on his ideology. Much like the father in “The Metamorphosis” he believes that every person who is useless to him in this world is as good as an insect, and deserving of being beaten until they either serve his purposes or die.

This also gives some foreshadowing to the rest of the drama, as “The Metamorphosis” is commonly seen as an outlet for Kafka to write about his own father issues and how his abusive father shaped him into what he became. The same goes for Seo Ji Wook played by Kwon Soo Hyun. His experiences with his own abusive father largely has turned him into the person he is today.

“The Metamorphosis” is also commonly seen as not only a story about a man transforming into a vermin, but also the story of a girl transforming into a woman as the sister of the main character of the novel, makes her own journey to womanhood. This can also be said for Hee Jin played by Han So Hee who goes from being quite immature to morphing into a responsible woman.

(2) Ahn Hyo Seop sounds really good when he is speaking in foreign languages which is very in character for Cha Min. This is rather rare in a kdrama so I found this impressive. Even if the actor is not fluent like Ahn Hyo Seop, there is no shame in dubbing an actor who can’t speak a language when you want to convey the image of a professional who is fluent in several languages. I wish more kdramas would do this instead of having them speak poor English/French/Russian/Chinese/Japanese etc. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with speaking with a heavy accent. Speaking a language with a heavy accent is perfect if it fits the character, but when it doesn’t fit the character it definitely breaks the immersion for the viewer.

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(3) Park Bo Young’s acting, man, it’s so good. If I compare it with her other two latest dramas, Oh My Ghostess and Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, I think the one thing that she has gotten a lot better at is her comedic timing. She has truly evolved that part of her repertoire which results in some truly hilarious moments that otherwise would have fell flat if her delivery wasn’t so on point.

(4) The soundtrack is nice. The OST list is not very extensive but the tracklist with songs by Suran, Coogie, Kim Feel and Kim Bohyung still remains memorable and suits the different moments of the show well.

(5) For the most part, the drama is well shot. In particular, I really like the crane shots that they use pretty sparingly but to great effect for showing perspective in wide shots and establishing frames.

The Bad:

(1) The director and writer takes a little too much influence from mediocre horror movies. It becomes apparent through the use of sudden noises and horror movie music which leads into a lot of fake outs just to get a reaction out of the audience. Another aspect of the mediocre horror movie influences is that everyone who is not a villain in this series makes stupid and irrational decisions constantly. Much like the cast of a slasher or a horror film characters don’t even try to run or survive, they willingly go to secluded areas with a person they know is a murderer and prove themselves to be too stupid to live. The purpose of a lot of characters is just to die, which is just horrible writing.

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(2) There is way too much time wasted with recycled scenes and footage. The reason you would do this is to fill the runtime while spending less money. For example, they spent 14 minutes in Episode 5 just recapping the previous episode and showing some additional scenes that didn’t contain any additional plot information. Those are 14 minutes of air time wasted. They could have just extended the previous episode by 5 minutes to fit in those extra scenes.

(3) What is up with the focus in certain shots? For the most part, it’s all right, but sometimes they either shift focus too quickly which results in a blurry mess or the characters who should be emphasised in the frame are out of focus where the camera is focused on something irrelevant in either the foreground or the background. They rarely use the blurry focus for the purpose of achieving a cool shot or a certain effect. It’s just poor camera work.

(4) For a show about a supernatural orb that can bring people back to life, there is very unimaginative writing to go along with it. Rather than using the orb as a way of writing interesting plotlines, they just go about things in the exact same way that a non-supernatural show would go about things. For example, instead of having to write in a female accomplice that shows up disguise as a cop to help Oh Yeong Cheol to escape from prison, how cool would it have been if he schemed his way out of prison by using the mechanics of the Abyss?

Speaking of which, they made the mechanics of the Abyss way less interesting than they could have been. Instead of having the Abyss be able to switch between users when they die like a daisy chain to the next person who was revived after they were. Instead they decided to put a limitation on it returning it to the original users if a new user dies, resulting in way less interesting possibilities for the writers to integrate the Abyss in changing the plot.

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(5) There is a clear disconnect between Ahn Se Ha and Ahn Hyo Seop as well as Kim Sa Ra and Park Bo Young. They don’t feel like they are the same character in different bodies, as their mannerisms, expressions and to an extent personalities are completely different after the transformation. Compared to another body switching drama of this year, Spring Turns to Spring, that drama executes this aspect way better than Abyss.

(6) Making a story about the superficiality in South Korea and the modern world as a whole is not a new concept in kdrama but it’s a topic that I still feel is pretty fresh, but the execution is not very good and they don’t touch on the topic other than at surface level. It also doesn’t help that the drama reinforces unrealistic beauty standards for both men and women as the drama indirectly tells you that if you look like Ahn Se Ha, then you are an ugly guy and if you look worse than Park Bo Young then you are a below-average looking girl. However, I realise everything has a context and that this is dramaland and if you don’t have a conventionally attractive lead, the drama is not going to do as well.

Score: 3,0 / 10 – Cool concept and good acting but the writing is abysmal to the point where it ruins the drama completely.

5/5 - (1 vote)

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