Revenant Season 1 Review – A stylish, slightly slow horror K-Drama

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: July 8, 2023
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Revenant Season 1 Review - A stylish, slightly slow horror K-Drama


Revenant employs every horror cliché in the book to ensnare an audience well-suited to its gimmicks, but a languid pace does threaten to take the wind out of the story’s sails before it really gets going.

This review of the 2023 Disney+ K-Drama series Revenant Season 1 does not contain spoilers.

The Disney+ K-Drama Revenant is, in many ways, a classic horror story, complete with dark-haired girls, spooky reflections, and demonic objects. It isn’t particularly scary, at least not in its early going, but it is at least creepy, boasting some creative imagery and an almost comfortingly familiar tone.

But it’s restrained, and a little languid in its pacing, which means seasoned genre aficionados may find it – or at least the first four episodes, on which this review is based – to be a little difficult to really invest in.

Revenant Season 1 review and plot summary

Anyway, here’s the idea. As all good supernatural stories must, this one opens with a death, that of folklore professor Gu Gang-mo (Jin Seon-kyu). It might look like suicide, but not quite – he’s haunted by an entity with a wild, almost electrified barnet, which becomes a recurring visual motif throughout the first few episodes.

The hair is usually haloing the silhouette of San-yeong (Kim Tae-ri), Gang-mo’s estranged daughter whose mother told her he died in a car crash when she was little.  Following Gang-mo’s death, San-yeong is introduced to her grandmother for the first time and bequeathed a hair accessory that turns out to be possessed by a dangerous demon.

When various bizarre happenings and bodies begin mounting up around San-yeong, she turns to an enigmatic professor, Hae-sang (Oh Jung-se), who can not only see the ghouls but has a long and traumatic history with them that ties him intimately into Hae-sang’s familial story.

Detective Lee Hong-sae (Hong Kyung), though, is primarily concerned with the bodies.

There’s nothing especially novel about this setup. However, these three core characters are instantly engaging. They’re operating on very different wavelengths, but the performances are nuanced, the writing is understated, and the potential for the dynamic to be twisted and turned in subsequent episodes is one of the primary motivations for pushing through the hour-plus episodes.

It’s certainly not the pacing. It’s a good job these characters are likable since Revenant is keen to spend as much time with them as possible, and none of it is hurried. The show is comfortable in its aesthetic and with its material, so it’s content to lean on cheap visual tricks or snippets of gore and brutality rather than giving us the nastiness up-front. It’s a reserved approach that I suspect might be temporary, perhaps in service of a messier back half of the season, but it can sometimes run the risk of being a little laborious and overly familiar.

Is Revenant good or bad?

There’s certainly a lot to like about Revenant’s construction, though. It’s fronted by very capable actors who have an engaging dynamic, and it’s very confident in its ability to repurpose horror staples in service of a story that is yet to fully reveal itself but has all kinds of obvious potential.

Of course, some viewers, put off by the overlong episodes and unhurried pace, might not get that far. But that’s the risk this kind of psychological horror must necessarily take in order to develop a bedrock of human drama before things start getting really crazy.

Is Revenant worth watching?

It’ll be popular regardless – the stars, the genre, and the style just lend itself to a frothing audience who are forever looking for exactly this kind of thing.

But it’s easy enough to recommend Revenant anyway. If it doesn’t improve, it’ll still end up being pretty good, and if it does, then we might very well be in for a real treat.

What did you think of Revenant Season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Disney+.

Additional reading:

Disney+, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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