Right now, a lot of ink is being spilled on all things Squid Game. Although it was released on Netflix just over two weeks ago, the last couple of days has seen it bubble up to the surface of everyone’s social media feeds, for good reason too. Set on a mysterious island off of Seoul, it sees four-hundred-and-fifty-six down-and-out, near-bankrupt outcasts coerced into a survival game, commanded to complete six playground-inspired games. Fuck up? That’s your luck up too, sadly – you’re shot in front of your fellow players, eliminated forever.
Its plot is a winner. As it takes you into an increasingly more mysterious, deliciously uncanny world of capitalist dystopia, it spirals you back and forth with amoral glee, pushing you down pink helter-skelter layered with rusty nails. Like candy spiked with razor blades or creaking swings, it’s got that whole creepy childlike thing going on that really gets us grimacing, made stellar by the likes of fashion star HoYeon Jung and writer/director Hwang Dong-hyuk.
For us aesthetes, though, it’s the visuals that grab us by the tentacles the hardest. From its bottle green tracksuits to its poppy pastel corridors, it’s a treat for the eyes as much as it is for the mind (if you can see it through the cracks of your fingers as the timer ticks down, that is). Here’s our rundown of what we liked the best, especially when it wasn’t spattered in just-drawn blood…
Green is the new black. Look, bottle green probably isn’t the usual hue we’d go for when picking our own tracksuit, but it’s certainly going to be our main choice now. Upon arrival, the players are changed into dark, forest-toned trackies, finished with white taping on the top’s shoulders and the pants’ sides, plus an eighties style collar and side pockets. It’s finished with the embroidered number, too, so that those watching up above can let everyone know which player has passed or – gulp – failed. Naturally, everyone now wants their own, so expect a lot of very hastily produced knock-offs (like this one) in time for Halloween.
I know what you’re thinking – we’re huge stans of Squid Game too, but what’s so special about the shapes? Well, sometimes the simple things are the most alluring, and there’s something about the use of triangles, squares and circles that gets us going. They don’t only represent the hierarchy of the guards, but also exactly mirror the PlayStation symbols, instantly communicating that there’s a game going on here. There is, of course, something very video game about the whole plot – which is why it’s no surprise that Roblox users have already built out the entire island in cubes.
Fight us, but Squid Game has the best looking staircases we’ve ever seen on screen, avada kedavra, Harry Potter. Bubblegum pink, lime greens and ice blues combine to create a futuristic, eerily naive space, making use of as many physical creations as possible to avoid CGI. Offset by the danger-red of the guards and their very real black machine guns, it’s a twisted kid’s playset that’s as beguiling as it belying.
We’re not sure how intentional it was, but The Front Man – the big scary guy who controls everything – perfectly taps into the whole masked-up, all-black thing going on right now. Following Kim & Kanye and Demna Gvasalia, The Front Man rocks a look somewhere between The Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom, paired with a long hooded coat. There’s something extra unsettling too about the use of face coverings when placed in situ with people locked in their rooms, facing possible death and playing mindless games. Sound familiar?
God, looking at this again is giving us the fear. There’s nothing too spoilery here as it’s from the first episode, but essentially there’s a big scary doll that turns around in a deathly game of Red Light, Green Light and shoots bullets out of its eyes. It kind of reminds us of that equally big, scary doll in Devs, hands apart ready to catch a frisbee (go watch it). It’s already achieved meme status thanks to a ten foot version being installed in Metro Manila in the Philippines, eyeing your every move to make sure you don’t cross the road on a red.
Let’s end on a lighter note, shall we? There’s something so satisfying about the cookie cut-outs from Episode 3, featuring little honeycomb umbrellas, triangles, stars and circles. TikTok, obvs, are already on the case, and you can now make your own Dalgona Candy (to dunk into your equally viral Dalgona Coffee). One thing – just make sure they don’t ever snap…
You can watch Squid Game here on Netflix now. Go on.