Thriller of the Month: Save Me
Halloween is right around the corner so ’tis the season for everything spooky and scary. While I am usually drawn to romantic comedies when it comes to K-Dramas, I found my interest piqued by the recently completed K-Drama Save Me that aired on OCN. The drama stars 2PM’s Ok Taecyeon alongside Seo Yeji and is based on popular webcomic “Out of the World (세상 밖으로)” by Jo Geumnsan.
Delving into the Life of a Religious Cult
The story of Save Me revolves around Im Sangmi and her mother, father, and twin brother. The family moves from Seoul to a remote area in Muji County in order for her father to find a job and support his family. It becomes clear that the local church community (which we later learn is referred to as Guseonwon), has extensive land on the nearby mountain and is a major financial factor in the county, providing a safe haven for the homeless and mentally ill. Or at least, that’s what it seems like on the surface. One of the first scenes of the drama shows a dramatic service being held by the church’s pastor, with the incredibly charismatic Baek Jungki declaring that he can heal the stomach cancer of one of the church’s members. In a rather gruesome fashion, he makes it appear as if he reaches directly into the man and pulls out his tumor with his own hands to the chants of his believers shouting praises.
While the cult aspect is introduced almost immediately to the viewer, the family is completely unaware of the danger that faces them when the church offers to help them out. The first scene of the show switches between two perspectives: one of the family getting a flat tire and meeting our future heroes—Han Sanghwan, Seok Dongchul and their crew, who help them by calling an auto repair shop—and one of the fanatic church service.
Sangmi is the first person to realize that something is very wrong with this community, but quickly becomes the obsession of the Messianic pastor and finds herself trapped in the hands of the cult. To avoid spoiling any more of the plot, I’ll leave the synopsis at that.
My biggest complaint about the drama is that it takes quite a long time to pick up and become interesting. Much like the exposition that drags on in the beginning, the general horribleness that continues to befall Sangmi’s family and the main group of boys gets excessive after a while. Despite that, once the story really gets rolling it becomes incredibly interesting and addicting and remains compelling until the end. From what I’ve experienced, a lot of dramas that hook you in early on tend to have disappointing endings that not only feel rushed, but oftentimes forced. That’s not the case at all for Save Me, which has perfect pacing about halfway through the story.
If you’re looking for a good thriller that isn’t too violent and surprises you with its twists and turns, then Save Me is an ideal drama to experience this Halloween season! The theme of intense religious devotion and cults can get quite disturbing, so if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing I’d avoid this drama. That being said, Save Me does an amazing job at portraying the psychological aspect of cultism and is incredibly realistic in its portrayal of the overreach many cult leaders have.
While it’s not a traditional horror genre type of show, the psychological thriller will keep you on edge the whole way through!