Of all the weird unexplained elements in "Goblin", the one I most consistently get hung up on is how director Lee Eung-bok is able to pull off such radical scene transitions without creating any tonal whiplash. One minute the Goblin is calm and cool as usual, unwilling to let on to Eun-tak that he is in the slightest bit surprised by what she does or does not know. The next minute, the Goblin is breathing heavily in front of his mortal enemy, the Grim Reaper, because girls are scary.
I can't for the life of me figure out what's going on with the Goblin and the Grim Reaper interpersonally, by the way. It's like they wandered into "Goblin" out of a yaoi comic book and are having a constant angry lover's quarrel over whose fault it is they can't go back. There's not...actually anything sexual about their relationship, it's just really weirdly disproportionately intense considering normally all they ever do is get into petty roommate squabbles.
The lack of sexuality is one of the strong points in "Goblin". It's mostly just that I'm grateful we don't have to seriously ponder whether the Goblin and Eun-tak are supposed to be taken seriously as a couple. Eun-tak brings up the Goblin Bride thing mostly as a way to get under the Goblin's skin. The whole exercise appears to be an excuse to explore the Goblin's fear of mortality, even as he's clearly not getting much of a kick out of living anymore.
Now, compare that to Deok-hwa. That kid's got spunk. Or maybe it's just impudence. All I know is, he's acting in a very self-parodying way at this point. I can't remember whether that car scene was actually in "The Heirs" or whether that was just the kind of thing that drama did on a regular basis. Deok-hwa would actually probably be the most convincing love interest for Eun-tak, since aside from the age difference he's also one of the few characters who can get under her skin.
But it's easy to overthink "Goblin", what with all the segues into random weird jokes and magical fairytale locations. Like...Canada, of course. Oh, and have you noticed, by chance, that the seasons in "Goblin" seem to change at random? Spring, fall or winter, all based on whichever backdrop happens to be prettiest for the given scene. It's very strange, not easily noticeable, and yet...oddly beautiful. So it is with "Goblin" as a whole.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 4"
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