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Series / Strangers From Hell

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Strangers From Hell (Hangul: 타인은 지옥이다; RR: Taineun Jiogida; also called Hell is Other People) is a 2019 South Korean television series based on the NAVER WEBTOON of the same name by Kim Yong-ki. Starring Im Si-wan and Lee Dong-wook, it was released worldwide in 2020 by Netflix.

The series follows the handsome Yoon Jong-woo (Im Si-wan), an aspiring crime-novelist who moves from the countryside to Seoul after landing a job at his senior's new company. Short on cash, he saves money by renting a room in the hostel, Eden Gosiwon. After dealing with strange encounters with the residents, he begins to wonder if his frugality might have cost him more than he bargained for.

A prequel movie and a spin-off are rumoured to be in the works.

Tropes included in the series include:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Everyone looks much better in the series than in the webtoon. Here's the webtoon's Jong-woo and Moon-jo next to their actors in the series.
  • Alpha Bitch: Ji-Eun's boss, Han Go-eun.
  • Asshole Victim: All of the residents count.
    • No one is too upset when Moon-jo (or is it Jong-woo?) kills Gi-hyeok, Deuk-soo and Deuk-jong.
    • Nam-bok attempts to rape Jung-hwa and promptly gets killed by Ms. Eom, who then gets killed by Moon-jo or Jong-woo a few minutes later.
    • Park Byeong-min spends the entire show being an unrelating jerk to Jong-woo, refusing to do his job at work to train him and then repeatedly blaming and belittling him for asking for help. Eventually, Jong-woo snaps and beats the crap out of him, putting him in the hospital.
  • Attack the Mouth / The Tooth Hurts: Moon-jo usually tears out his victims' teeth without anaesthetic before killing them.
  • Axe Before Entering: Deuk-jong breaks down Jong-woo's door with an axe.
  • Axe-Crazy: All of the residents at Eden Studio are serial killers and cannibals.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Moon-jo succeeds in driving Jong-woo insane and possibly turning him into a serial killer.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Deuk-jong, a serial killer who kills cats around the neighborhood, calling it "playing" with them when asked about it. The trope is actually discussed, with Jung-hwa correctly predicting that whoever is killing cats regularly either is soon going to graduate to killing people, or has already done so.
  • Berserk Button: Jong-woo when pushed too far. Usually following a flash back from his days in the army.
  • Big Bad: Moon-jo, who appears somewhat normal until a few episodes in, when it's revealed he's puppeteering the other residents of Eden.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Shows up when Moon-jo kills Deuk-soo.
  • Bound and Gagged:
    • Seok-yoon is gagged and tied to a chair before he's murdered.
    • Also happens to Jung-hwa after she's captured.
  • Break the Cutie: Don't let Jong-woo's good-looks and thoughtfulness fool you. Underneath his handsome exterior is a capacity for violence. This is repeatedly tested by the residents of Eden and his coworkers... and it'd be safe to say that Moon-jo definitely broke him by the end of the series.
  • Cannibal Larder: Moon-jo invites Jong-woo to eat some meat (which resembles yukhoe) that Ms. Eom occasionally prepares for the residents and leaves in the fridge. Cue the startling music and flickering lights, making the dish go from somewhat appetizing to downright repulsive.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Jong-woo briefly uses a chair as a weapon during his fight with Moon-jo.
  • Chick Magnet: Not only does Jong-woo have a beautiful girlfriend, but he also gains the attention of his coworker Oh Hye-won, much to the jealousy of Park Byeong-min.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Moon-jo collects his victims' teeth and turns them into jewellery. He gives a bracelet decorated with teeth to Jong-woo, and the ending reveals Jong-woo is still wearing it weeks after Moon-jo's death.
  • Creepy Twins: Deuk-jong and Deuk-soo are identical twins who sometimes dress alike, kill cats, and in Deuk-jong's case are constantly giggling.
  • Decomposite Character: The webtoon's antagonist is split into two characters, Gi-hyeok and Moon-jo, in the series.
  • Depraved Dentist: Moon-jo. Oh god, Moon-jo. He's a dentist who's also a serial killer, torturer and stalker.
  • Downer Ending: Jong-woo is completely insane by the end.
  • Drop the Hammer: Jong-woo wields a hammer in the final fight. Moon-jo briefly gets hold of it and attacks Jong-woo with it.
  • Eat the Evidence: Ms. Eom cuts up part of a victim's body and puts it in the fridge. Moon-jo eats it and gets Jong-woo and Seok-yoon to eat it too.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: Hee-joong doesn't notice the door behind him is opening until it's too late.
  • Evil-Detecting Baby: One of Moon-jo's client's young daughter, who, despite her mother's obvious crush on him, remarks that she's scared because he looks evil.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Moon-jo has a deeper voice than the other residents and is the most evil character in the series.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Moon-jo doesn't look like a threat at first, helped by his appearance and longish hair. He's also a serial-killing cannibal.
  • Gainax Ending / Mind Screw: The series ends with Jung-hwa seeing the supposedly-dead Moon-jo and Jong-woo's face turning into Moon-jo's, accompanied by flashbacks to earlier events that contradict what we've already seen. Some of it is justified since Jong-woo's insane, but the rest is pure Mind Screw.
  • Gas Lighting: Jong-woo's boundaries are constantly being crossed by the other residents. When he brings this up to the owner, Ms. Eom, she brushes him off, saying it must've been a misunderstanding.
    • Despite Jong-woo's boss and his jealous coworker's rude indirect (and direct) jabs at his living situation and personality in general, they tell Jong-woo he's overreacting when he justifiably gets mad.
  • Giggling Villain / Laughing Mad: Deuk-jong is constantly giggling.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The reporter's murder isn't shown. He's writing on his laptop, Moon-jo comes up beside him, then cut to Moon-jo phoning the police and pretending to be a passer-by who found the reporter's body.
  • Hallway Fight: The final fight between Jong-woo and Moon-jo takes place mainly in the studio's hallway.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The thud-thud sound of Moon-jo bouncing a tennis ball against the floor is incredibly creepy and means someone's about to die.
  • Hope Spot:
    • One of the kidnapped victims manages to escape. She avoids Ms. Eom and gets safely out of Eden, then runs right into Moon-jo.
    • Seok-yoon hides while Nam-bok and Deuk-jong go past. They don't notice him so he leaves his hiding place... and Moon-jo appears behind him.
  • How We Got Here / Once More, with Clarity: The series starts with Jong-woo hiding in his room as someone walks past. Then they throw the door open, beat Jong-woo up, and drag him out. The first episode doesn't show the attacker's face, but episode ten reveals it's Moon-jo — and things didn't happen quite the way the prologue shows. Notably, the attacker in the prologue looks more like Gi-hyeok than Moon-jo. Gi-hyeok dies long before episode ten.
  • I Have Your Wife: Moon-jo captures Jong-woo's girlfriend to entice him to come back to Eden, setting up for the finale.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Everyone at Eden Studio. Ms. Eom butchers their victims' bodies for them to eat.
  • Inferred Survival: There are hints that Moon-jo survived. His body is never shown, both Jung-hwa and Jong-woo see him after his apparent death, and it's implied someone is watching as Jung-hwa leaves the hospital.
  • Jerkass: Hong Nam-bok is an all-around abhorrent and disgusting pervert, whose smelly room is filled with erotic pictures of women. He even sprays women's legs with ink so they will dispose of their pantyhose, which he will retrieve for himself.
  • Jitter Cam: Used constantly throughout the series.
  • Kill the Cutie: Poor, poor Seok-yoon. He's one of the nicest, sanest characters in the show, so naturally he becomes yet another murder victim.
  • Mad Artist: Moon-jo considers what he does art, and kills anyone who interferes with it. Especially in regards to turning people into killers.
    Moon-jo: What I do is art. Not murder.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • Jong-woo finds a journal under the bed with the word "die" written repeatedly. He figures it's from the previous resident.
    • Mirrored by Jong-woo in the final episode, who types "die" repeatedly on his laptop.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Jung-hwa sees Moon-jo, who's supposedly dead, apparently alive and unharmed. It's left up to the viewer to decide if she's seeing things, if Moon-jo is a ghost, or if he somehow survived.
  • My God, You Are Serious!: When Moon-jo tells Seok-yoon that the yukhoe he's eating is human meat. Followed by "just joking!" He wasn't joking.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Moon-jo is too touchy-feely with Jong-woo, often getting too close.
  • Older Than They Look: People comment that Jong-woo, despite only being 26-years-old, looks a lot younger.
  • Ominous Korean Chanting: Eerie chanting is heard on the soundtrack several times, usually when someone's about to be horribly murdered.
  • Police Are Useless: Policewoman Jung-hwa encounters obstacles to her investigation of Eden and its residents by her own colleagues, constantly being told it's not her business, and that the weather is too hot to be investigating.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Moon-jo's disturbing smile can be seen when he's killing people or when he's trying to convert them into serial killers.
  • The Resenter: Park Byeong-min doesn't like Jong-woo from the get-go, due to his handsome face, beautiful girlfriend and supposed favor with the CEO. This resentment is only exacerbated anytime Byeong-min's crush, Son Yoo-jeong, flirts or pays any attention to Jong-woo.
  • Right Behind Me: Jong-woo complains to Seok-yoon about Moon-jo. At first he's oblivious to Seok-yoon's attempts to make him stop, and when he finally looks round he sees Moon-jo's behind them.
  • Sadistic Choice: Moon-jo says he'll let Ji-eun go if Jong-woo kills his friend. Jong-woo attacks Moon-jo instead.
  • Sanity Slippage: Jong-woo descends further and further into insanity as living in Eden takes a toll on him.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Moon-jo delights in these. Like telling the twins he thought they were disposing of a body when he knows they're disposing of one of his victims, and asking if Jong-woo thinks he's eating human meat when he is.
  • Slashed Throat:
    • Deuk-jong dies of a cut throat and several stab-wounds.
    • Moon-jo dies after Jong-woo cuts his throat.
  • Slasher Smile / The Un-Smile: Moon-jo's "smile" is downright horrifying.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Ms. Eom hands Jong-woo drinks under the guise of being concerned for his health, but they're drugged.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Moon-jo rarely raises his voice and speaks calmly even when telling a victim he's about to tear out their teeth.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Moon-jo for Jong-woo.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Moon-jo calls everyone "honey".
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Deuk-jong's death. Moon-jo cuts his throat then stabs him repeatedly.
  • Understatement: Moon-jo says everyone in Eden is a bit strange. Well... he's not wrong...
  • Unreliable Narrator: The ending uses this constantly.
    • Either Ms. Eom killed Nam-bok or Jong-woo did. Jung-hwa was the only witness and she wasn't able to see what was happening, so it's open to interpretation.
    • Either Moon-jo or Jong-woo killed Ms. Eom and Deuk-jong.
  • Villainous Crush: Seemingly Moon-jo for Jong-woo due to the fact he's stalking him throughout the series, calling him "honey", defending him from others. Though he seems to call everyone "honey."
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Jung-hwa vomits on-screen after seeing the reporter's body.
  • Walking Spoiler: Everything about Eden Studio in general and Moon-jo in particular is a massive spoiler.