I’m not a big fan of cop-out cliffhangers. Following last week’s deliciously dark final scene, Strangers From Hell pulls out a cliched twist before delivering a somewhat pedestrian and straight forward episode. While the inner conflict for Jong-Woo is well written, the distinct lack of horror is a little disappointing for a show that started so promisingly.
We return to Strangers From Hell this week where it turns out the figure he saw in the room was just a dream. As he awakens and breathes heavily, we cut back to Song who deliberates over Moon-Zo’s words as she tries to piece together what’s happening at Eden Studio. Song finally heads to the dentist where she speaks to Moon-Zo about Spring Orphanage. As he answers her questions calmly and without controversy, she brushes off her concerns and heads in to be examined.
Meanwhile, as Jong-Woo heads out he stumbles upon the new guy whose just moved into Eden Studio, Kang Seok Yun. Warning him about the other residents, Jong-Woo heads outside with him where they run into Moon-Zo himself. After an awkward conversation, Jong-Woo follows Kang where he performs hip-hop in the street.
After hitting the local restaurant for some food, Jong-Woo tells him they need to seriously consider leaving Eden Studio as it’s not safe for them. Instead, Kang decides he wants to check out the fourth floor as whatever is hidden may well be in there. Jong-Woo warns against it though and tells Kang he can’t go as it’s too dangerous. Heading home, Jong Woo takes a detour at Ji-Eun’s, intending to surprise her but finds a strange man dropping her off. Debating about what to do, he decides to ditch Ji-Eun and head back to the studio where Kang may well be in trouble.
Jong-Woo returns home and meets Kang on the roof where they discuss what’s happening. As he berates the various different residents of the Studio, Moon-Zo slips out of the shadows and squares up to him, antagonizing the boys. As he slips out of view as ominously as he arrived, the boys head downstairs to share a shower together. As they laugh and joke, Nam-Bok scowls from the shadows. So much so that later in the evening he stands outside Jong-Woo’s room with a knife. However, Jong-Woo spots him from afar and as he fumbles with his phone, trying to take a picture, Bok-Soom arrives and startles him.
It’s here Jong-Woo tells her about Nam Bok’s murderous tendencies and she immediately causes a scene, confronting Nam-Bok and slapping him hard in the face. She tasks Deuk-Jong to search for the knife in his room but after a fruitless endeavour, Jong-Woo searches instead and trashes his room. The noise causes Moon-Zo to arrive and he sees Deuk-Jong hiding the knife behind his back.
Slowly losing his mind, Jong-Woo causes a scene inside an internet cafe some time later, prompting three of the boys to follow him out and confront him in the dark alleyway. Unfortunately Eden Studio has done a number on Jong-Woo and he picks up a brick and begins beating down the trio, as we flash back to his time in the army. Beaten and bruised, Moon-Zo approaches Jong-Woo as he slumps against the wall, smirking at our protagonist as he struggles to remain conscious.
Compared to the early episodes in this season, Strangers From Hell feels like its lost its way a little. While I do understand some of the changes made to the webtoon may annoy some people, I’m personally okay with the source material being changed if it benefits the plot and enhances the horror. So far though, Strangers From Hell has really failed to capitalize on its early promise, instead turning inwards to a much more psychological game as Jong-Woo struggles to hang on to his sanity.
Quite how this one is likely to end remains to be seen but right now Strangers From Hell feels like it’s going to end on a whimper rather than a roar, which is a bit of a shame given the early promise this Korean drama had. Still, there’s plenty to like here but this episode doesn’t do a whole lot in terms of scares or tension. Hopefully that’ll change in tomorrow’s episode!