The popularity of a zombie-themed show is sure to soar, such as AMC’s 2010 The Walking Dead, seducing avid fans of the horror genre. The deviance of cannibalism and splashy gore are elements that – due to their absence from our lives – create the perfect escape from mundanity. Introducing complexity into this formula seems risky, but does Kingdom deliver on its promise?
The South Korean political period horror, written by Kim Eun-hee and directed by Kim Seong-hun [Tunnel], first aired on January 25th 2019. The story is based on the 2014 webcomic series Land of The Gods, also written by Kim Eun-hee. The plot revolves around the treasonous Crown Prince, Lee Chang (Ji-Hoon Ju), as he tries to quell the spread of a zombie plague threatening to consume the kingdom. On his quest, he is joined by his trusted bodyguard Mu-yeong (Kim Sang-ho), a female physician named Seo Bi (Doona Bae – known for her role as Sun in Sense8), and a young warrior named Young Shin (Kim Sung-kyu). Their dynamics shift under the chilling circumstances, but probably the most daunting enemy is the one responsible for the political scene of the country. The Queen Consort (Kim Hye-jun) twiddles power behind the palace’s walls, careless with life.
Unlike most shows, both seasons of Kingdom deliver breathless action, as well as a production worthy of an Oscar. Every scene seems meticulously crafted, from the makeup and costumes to the choreography. The utter chaos of the approaching night is enthralling, tying a feather-light knot around your heartstrings. The subplots are woven into a harmonious web, which pulsates from the human element of the series. Bleeding while the light is dwindling. Every character has an arc and never strays from it, binding the fictional theme into something eerily believable. When you least expect it, the show pounces on you – asking uncomfortably ethical questions. And yet, you find yourself unable to squirming away. Because of the natural balance of themes and engaging dilemmas, the show easily draws in a wide audience, promising many sleepless nights. The only downside of the series is that there are only ten episodes in a season.