The Silent Sea Review: Thirst Trap
With the global success of Squid Game, it’s no surprise that Netflix would try again to strike gold with a Korean drama. The latest is a dystopic thriller starring Squid Game‘s own Gong Yoo. In our review of The Silent Sea (고요의 바다), we’ll discuss the profound questions it provokes. Queries like is this our future? How far would we go to save humanity? And are they really going to make me watch Gong Yoo play another sad dying daddy?
This Movie Takes Place In the Near, Dry Future
image via Netflix
Before we get to the Silent Sea review, let’s talk about the plot. The year is 2021. We’re still deep in the middle of unprecedented times, praying for a single moment of precedent. Wait, no, that’s not it. Sometime in the not-too-far-off future, the planet is in deep trouble. Apparently, humanity has not staved off the climate crisis, because desertification is widespread. Food is scarce, but nothing is as rare or valuable as water. It’s now basically a luxury item, which the government rations based on your status.
In the middle of all this, the South Korean government tasks a crew with undertaking a mysterious mission to an abandoned lunar base. The base has sat empty ever since an “accident,” which killed all of its resident employees. The crew, which Captain Han Yoon-jae (Gong Yoo) will lead, has one deceptively simple mission. They have to retrieve a sample.
I can hear you asking, a sample of what? Yeah, here’s the thing. The government officials who are overseeing this mission, including Director Choi (Gil Hae-yeon) and Chief Kim Jae-sun (Heo Sung-tae), claim they don’t know. The information about the material was lost. That sounds perfectly credible and I’m sure everything will be fine.
Somewhere Beyond The Silent Sea
Would you believe that things go wrong? I know, it’s shocking. Anyway, the trouble starts almost immediately after they land. Well, technically, it begins when they land, because they don’t so much land as crash.
And while retrieving at least one sample of God-knows-what would be enough of a challenge, there are other difficulties. These include, for instance, the fact that their communication link disconnects just as soon as they get there. Oh, and also, there are all the bodies.
image via Netflix
This is particularly disturbing for Dr. Song Ji-an (Bae Doona), because her sister was the head researcher at Balhae, the lunar base. She and Director Choi have withheld this little tidbit from Captain Han and the rest of the crew, but it’s significant. The official word is that everyone died in a radiation accident, but when they examine the bodies (and test the radiation levels), the evidence doesn’t support the official story.
This development brings Dr. Song into conflict with Captain Han, and not for the last time. Obviously, she wants to know why her sister died. Han, however, has his own concerns, which dictate that he stay on task. Back on earth, his daughter is very ill. If he completes this mission, then it will raise his status and subsequently, his daughter’s treatment. He can’t afford for Song to go off on a little side quest.
The Silent Sea Review
But affordability is at the heart of this series. Specifically, what can we afford to secure a real future? Will we be willing to pay with our lives? With our humanity?
At lunar base Balhae, they were trying to solve the world’s problems. They thought they could find a solution by seeking out water on the moon. What they did to achieve this goal, though, not only cost them their lives, but threatens the small crew that’s come after them.
Because while Netflix is billing The Silent Sea as a sci-fi thriller, it plays more like a horror movie. You’ll find yourself talking to the characters, urging them, “Don’t go in there!” and “Don’t touch that!” And the tension heightens, as they ignore us, going in there and touching that.
As such, watching the show is a very stressful experience. At the same time, it’s a good one, because the storyline allows for quieter moments. It’s in these parts that we find catharsis, as the actors, especially Gong Yoo and Bae Doona, nail the emotional conflicts their characters face.
image via Netflix
And they do it all in a stunning landscape. While some of the effects are a little hit or miss, the set design is not. The lunar terrain, for example, is exceptionally well-rendered. In the final episode, there is a shot set there that was so beautiful that it made me have a whole emotion.
That being said, I must also acknowledge that the series does not reinvent the wheel. In fact, it’s essentially a variation on the plot of a certain other space tale, a movie, which I won’t name (because it would spoil the show). In addition, some plot details are confusing, and left muddled, even in the ending. Even with all that, though, The Silent Sea is worth watching. It’s a chilling look at a future that could be closer than we think, as well as a scary story with a monster at the end of it. But as with another sci-fi-infused yarn, the monsters aren’t due to arrive. They’re already here.
The Silent Sea is now playing on Netflix.
Have you watched the show yet? Tell us what you think of our Silent Sea review here in these comments or on our social media. And if you haven’t watched Squid Game, go do that, too. We have no idea yet if there will be a Squid Game season 2–a mistranslation got our hopes up–but the first one is just about perfect.
featured image via Netflix
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at [email protected]