‘Mask Girl’ Review: A Kick of Spice That Keeps You Watching

mask girl review

Edited by Young Jun Yang
Translated by Hana Lee

mask girl review
Credit: Netflix

The show has this eerie and unsettling atmosphere that lasts right until the final scene. Once you dive in, you won’t be able to escape its gripping hold. The rollercoaster of emotions in the main character’s journey for love and attention adds a captivating layer to the drama. It’s like a non-stop feast of irresistible excitement, and that’s precisely what Netflix’s Mask Girl is all about.

As a girl who loves singing and dancing, Kim Mo Mi has harbored dreams of living a glamorous celebrity life since her childhood. However, she ultimately abandons these aspirations upon recognizing that she doesn’t meet society’s beauty standards for becoming a celebrity. As she matures into adulthood, she finally discovers a means to satisfy her desires: working as an office employee during the day and moonlighting as a masked camgirl at night. Eventually, her life takes a dramatic turn as her double life comes on the verge of getting exposed.

> Netflix’s ‘Mask Girl’ Director Praises Nana for Her Fearless Nude Scene in the Series

“Let’s see how wild this ride gets.” That’s likely what readers had in mind as they dove into the original webtoon. The villains not holding back on their wickedness and the story taking surprise turns kept us all on the edge of our seats with each twist. There wasn’t a single character that was super easy to cheer for, since the show was filled with that ‘villainous feast’ vibe.

The characters in the show came across as more likable, partly because the webtoon was condensed into a seven-part series over three years. Most importantly, people got hooked on them mainly due to the shifts in Kim Mo Mi’s character and storyline. In the original, she wasn’t just a helpless victim – she also had a dark side as a criminal. She’ll make you feel sorry for her one moment and then shock you with the murders and crimes she’s done in the next.

On the flip side, the drama places a stronger focus on the violence Mo Mi goes through. That leads her reasons for committing murder to veer away from the original story, adding some level of justification to her actions (But, let’s be clear, murder is a horrific crime). By pushing harder on the angle of her being a ‘sympathetic victim’ rather than a ‘villainous criminal,’ the show invites viewers to empathize with the character, making it easier to get tuned into the drama. While this choice can amp up immersion, it does run the risk of making the characters feel a bit one-dimensional and stereotypical. This change tones down the vibrant aspects of Kim Mo Mi, who the original author even described as “a character he couldn’t even control.” The original core theme of critiquing superficial beauty standards has also seen a significant reduction due to the condensed storytelling. Instead, the focus has turned towards themes of ‘female solidarity’ and ‘maternal love.’ However, the greater focus on ‘maternal love’ brought a somewhat overly melodramatic touch to the conclusion, which might have left some disappointed.

mask girl review
Credit: Netflix

The actors’ performances are seriously impressive. The three actress playing Kim Mo Mi truly become Kim Mo Mi herself. Lee Han Byul, a newbie in the scene, completely nails the role of a Kim Mo Mi who’s beaten down by life. Nana paints a vivid picture of both the hope and the underlying anxieties in the flashy lifestyle. Go Hyun Jung, even after a tough time in prison, crafts a tough-as-nails Kim Mo Mi who’d go to any length, even escape, for her daughter. Honestly, before checking out the show, the idea of multiple actors taking on a single character in a short running time had me a bit skeptical. But that turned out to be nothing but unnecessary worries.

Ahn Jae Hong and Yeom Hye Ran truly steal the spotlight with their performances in the series. Ahn Jae Hong masterfully embodies the creepy character of Joo Oh Nam, Mo Mi’s disturbingly quiet and obsessively infatuated colleague. On the other hand, Yeom Hye Ran delivers a powerful performance as Kim Kyung Ja, Oh Nam’s mother and Mo Mi’s adversary, keeping viewers hooked right up to the end. It’s clear that Mask Girl owes much of its popularity to the exceptional performances of these two actors.

The Netflix remake of Mask Girl brings some excitement to the table, although it might not match the original’s level. Still, it serves up a rather delightful and enjoyable viewing experience. The crystal-clear messages and the cast’s incredible acting will easily make you lose track of time during the seven-hour binge. (7/10)

Editor Yang Young Jun: There is at least one good part in every movie or TV series. A media geek who isn’t picky with genres.

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