Co-Workers From Hell
Back for another horror-fueled slice of drama, Strangers From Hell returns with another stylish, tonally consistent episode, one that keep up the horror and adds more characterisation for the eclectic residents at Eden Studio.
We begin with Nam-Bok debating whether to follow Jong-Woo or not after the evening’s confrontation. In the morning, Jong-Woo heads to work but on the way, he’s stopped by Ki-Hyeok, the man who broke up the ruckus in the middle of the night. After an awkward conversation between the two, Jong-Woo heads to work where everyone acts pretty friendly toward him, except Byeong-Min who gives him the cold shoulder.
While Jang-Woo is at work, the residents at the apartment swarm Hee-Joong and plunge a knife into his back. Only, it turns out this was a dream but as he awakens, a bang upstairs prompts him to investigate the forbidden fourth floor. Once there, he finds a bloody man sat up against the wall. Wide-eyed, he turns around to leave, only to receive an axe-blow to the face for his troubles.
Meanwhile, police close in on the serial cat-killer, receiving a tip off about Eden Studio and deciding to pay it a visit. Once there, the lead investigator Jung Hwa, asks Duek-Jong some questions, bringing him in to the station for further questioning. Realizing he’s autistic, the investigator lets him go after he admits to killing 13 cats but as they pin up Missing Person posters at the station, they realize the addresses of the missing are all close to Eden Studio too. A mere coincidence or is there something more sinister going on here?
After a tough day at work, Jung-Woo heads out for a company dinner with the team, where Jae-Ho lays into Jung-Woo, calling him a leech and a burden, despite attempting in vain to complement him about his writing. Hee-Joong breaks free from his binds soon after and phones Detective Cha, unfortunately only hearing static after pleading for his life. As he deliberates over what to do next, Dae-buek is reprimanded by Ki-Yeung for not keeping a closer eye on Hee-Joong, promptly slapping himself in the face several times for his troubles.
Still unable to get hold of Ji-Eun, Jung-Woo instead drinks in his room before finding a journal under the bed. Opening it and hesitantly flicking through the pages, the sane diary entries soon pave way for something far more maniacal, as the word ‘Die’ is scribbled repeatedly, over and over again on the pages. Wondering quite what this means, he pushes the thoughts out of his mind before heading out for a drink. On his way back, he’s approached by Detective Cha, the same one who received the call from Hee-Joong earlier in the episode. Hee-Joong’s missing, as it turns out and also a wanted man.
As he heads back to his car, Ki-Yeung appears and strangles the Detective, as Jong-Woo heads outside to try and find him after receiving his laptop back in the post. As we soon learn, the seemingly harmless dentist from earlier in the episode appears to be the mastermind behind the entire operation, stopping Ki-Yeung in his tracks and lamenting his desire to go against his wishes. As we see a picture of Eden Studio in his dentristy, and a note mentioning the familiar group are all volunteers, we’re left with plenty of questions to chew over.
Who are these people? Is Eden Studio actually a front for a mental institution or is it a laboratory for experimentation? Or is there something more supernatural and strange going on here? With more pieces of the puzzle coming into view, a much more mysterious vibe descends on Strangers From Hell this time around.
Although the subplot involving the detectives at the police station feels a little slow and tonally at odds with the horror, when this eventually merges with the main narrative things do feel a lot more consistent. I love the editing in this series too and with the quick-fire cuts and jumps between scenes, it all gives off the feel of a unique horror adaptation.
Quite where this show is likely to go from here remains to be seen but from what we’ve seen so far, there’s enough here to make Strangers From Hell well worth sticking with for the long-haul.