Reflector Reviews: Squid Game


Kaz Thomas, Campus Reporter

“Squid Game” is a title that has been circulating around the web lately after its debut online, the subject of memes and speculation alike.

It is a Netflix series produced in South Korea, written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk and starring Lee Jung-Jae as the main character. 

This show is taking Fall 2021 culture by storm as the next Tiger King, and not just because people are stuck in their houses with nothing else to do. 

Hwang Dong-hyuk finished the script for “Squid Game” in 2009, but had trouble securing investors due to the high production costs of the more titular scenes. 

After over a decade, with Dong-hyuk successfully pitching the show to Netflix and releasing it on their website, it is causing such a surge in online traffic that a South Korean internet provider is suing Netflix for their increased maintenance costs.

I am not usually interested in live action thrillers, but I decided to grab a few snacks this time and see what the internet-breaking hype was about. 

The first few minutes of the show are slow and nostalgic, shown in sepia filters with traditional music playing in the background. Children run around happily, determined to win the game they are engaging in. 

The show’s narrator explains that this is the “Squid Game”, and details the rules and actions. In this way, things are slowly introduced to the viewer. 

We meet the main character, Seong Gi-hun, and get an intimate view of a day of his life, forming an opinion about him. We see the connections he has with other people and his actions towards them, as though he is an open book.

Soon after this, my eyes were glued to the screen and my jaw dropped to the floor. I binge watched it all, and each episode is about an hour long.

Technically speaking, it is a seamless series with excellent lighting, crisp audio and horrifyingly imaginative set design. 

The establishing shots pan slowly around the room, as though you too are taking stock of the situation. Each low and high angle take is filmed with impact, as an intent of a display of power and weakness. 

Interestingly, eye level scenes are only shown briefly, highlighting the connectivity between the main character and others he is close to. 

The main character is a well written average man with his own internal conflict and moral compass, the kind of person someone can relate to and root for. Gi-hun has complexities that are slowly brought out with each obstacle he faces, and Lee Jung-Jae portrays him well. 

Every brutal episode of this series is a new challenge to morality, and each character is brought to life so well that you could pass them in the street and recognize them.

A typical dystopian series or film follows the same format of ‘privileged oppress the poor in dehumanizing ways’, but “Squid Game” hits harder in this economy. 

The series flips the concept on its head and turns the mirror towards all of us. It genuinely makes you wonder, what would you do? 

If you are quarantining or having a night in with a few of your friends, I would recommend giving “Squid Game” a try.

Fair warning though, this is not for the faint of heart. 

Rating: A