Trap is a 2019 South Korean television series starring Lee Seo-jin, Sung Dong-il and Lim Hwa-young. It is OCN’s first series for their new project called “Dramatic Cinema” that combines film and drama formats. It aired from February 9 to March 3, 2019.

‘Trap’ will be a cross between a romance and thriller that tells the story about the love, temptation, and betrayal that occurs among university students in their twenties.

Review : by txc_vertigo (link)

Crime thriller drama about a family man who ends up involved with a group of people who enjoy hunting humans.

The Good:

(1) The plot is really gritty and has a lot of twists and turns. No character feels like they are safe and it truly feels like anything can happen. Important characters get killed or have their lives ruined without warning. It’s one of those dramas that grabs your full attention with its thriller elements. The thriller elements in combination with the series only having 7 episodes makes for a perfect series to binge-watch it in one sitting. The drama doesn’t have room to drag or get boring. As a result of only having 7 episodes, it feels pretty tightly written. Not once throughout the show’s runtime did I feel myself getting disinterested in the story. Despite being very thrilling, Trap doesn’t fall into the Michael Bay category of just being high octane constantly which ultimately feels flat. Trap had its quiet moments too which allows it to build up to the climactic scenes and the suspense become more tangible than in a series that just puts the pedal the metal and never lets go.

(2) Sung Dong Il is a really good actor as always. In Trap, he plays detective Go Dong Kook who is close to retiring but decides to take on one last case. Sung Dong Il has almost 30 years of acting experience and you can really tell. Due to his age he rarely gets main roles in Kdramas nowadays and is often cast as a side character. Therefore, it is really refreshing to see him get so much spotlight in the role of a main character next to Lee Seo Jin who plays Kang Woo Hyun.

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(3) In the context of a kdrama, the story and premise is quite unique. There is some good usage of metaphors with the whole hunting and trap motif that runs throughout the story. The metaphor is referred to in the background even, such as when Go Dong Kook is in the museum and the guide is talking about how humans evolved to invent tools that allowed us to become hunters. This acts as foreshadowing to the twisted hunting group that think they have evolved further than the rest of humanity and they use this logic to justify their hunting of other humans.

(4) The cinematography is mostly really good. They do a good job with keeping the eyelines lined up correctly even in scenes that are more complex. They use some pretty cool drone shots sweeping over the landscape showing of the setting and having the added bonus of looking really gorgeous as the scenery is filled with autumn forests and winding country roads. Some crane shots are also used in the show in order to extend shots that would otherwise have required multiple cuts, which creates great momentum and fluidity. Even some of the handheld camera movement is surprisingly solid in the sense that it doesn’t involve too much shaky cam and it tracks the character movement well keeping them in frame but with enough space to allow for you to see actions that happens around them.

The Bad:

(1) The drama tries to execute a really difficult way of storytelling and it doesn’t work out very well as the execution of said technique is just so hard. In my opinion, executing a plot twist which involves an unreliable narrator is so hard to get right in cinematic form, as opposed to in a novel. The reason for this is because in a drama or a movie, the filmmakers have to show us shots that the unreliable narrator possibly couldn’t have known about or been apart of, such as other characters actions and dialogue or establishing shots when the narrator is not on screen. This makes the viewer feel cheated since the producers show us additional lies that the narrator is not telling us. I just felt like the series crumbled when they couldn’t execute this properly, which I don’t blame them for since it is very difficult to do. One sign of a plot twist being really good is that it adds to the rewatch value of the show, but with the plot twist of this show you don’t get the satisfaction of seeing the puzzle come together upon a rewatch as the twist is just ”I lied”. The ”I lied” twist can be used in an interesting way such as seen in Primal Fear (1996), but one main error that Trap commits is that it explicitly explains all of its misdirections to us rather than letting the audience discover these for themselves either by thinking back on the show or upon a rewatch.

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(2) I also felt like the filmmakers tried to be dark for the sake of being dark rather than for plot reasons, which comes of as a bit pretentious and overly edgy to me. But hey, to each their own, we all have different standards for what comes off as trying to hard. One of the most important aspects when writing a dark story is to write morally grey characters that have proper motivations for doing bad things so that the viewers can understand the characters actions. A prototypical example of this would be Walter White from Breaking Bad (2008) who turns to selling meth but has understandable motivations for doing so since he has cancer and needs to take care of his family. Among Korean series, Stranger (2017) would be a great example of an ensemble of well written morally ambiguous characters with proper motivations. The motivations of killing and doing bad deeds in Trap mostly just stop at ”I do it because I’m a psychopath”, which applies to the majority of the cast, except for the two main characters who are looking for revenge even though Kang Woo Hyun does it because he is a psychopath as well.

(3) The way they tried to wrap up the ending was quite disappointing. There are way too many plot threads left hanging. I don’t mind setting up for a sequel if that is what they are going for, but that should be done with some tact. Make sure to finish the current arc and then you can throw out a bit of teaser in the vane of ”it’s not over yet”. In this drama they just abandoned the first main arc of the story about 90% done and then called it a day. There are no signs of a season 2 ever happening either which results in a pretty unsatisfying situation as the viewer doesn’t get any closure.

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(4) There are some really crappy visual effects in this drama. For instance, the fire in the opening scene is painful to look at. The flames are so obviously added in digitally through post production as you can tell they are on a different layer than the physical scene, there is some artifacting on the flames, the movement of the flames is predictable since they are animated and there is little to no smoke added in digitally to boot.

Score: 6,5 / 10 – The concept for this drama is excellent and it’s accompanied by good actors and cinematography but the poor effects and especially the writing hiccups impacted the drama quite negatively.

5/5 - (2 votes)

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