As I was looking through my posts over the last few months, I realised it’s been way too long since I reviewed a webtoon. It’s not that I haven’t been reading any, but I keep getting distracted by games and manga. So without further ado let’s jump into my latest tantalising read. #Killstagram is an ongoing webtoon by Ryoung. The series focuses on instagram queen Remi Do who is literally living her best life off sponsorships and paid promotions. But not all is right in the world of social media, as influencers begin disappearing one by one, and Remi soon finds out that the killer has their sights on her.
I have to admit, I adore stories where horror meets modern media, for example movies like Unfriended or Countdown. Unlike traditional horror where a random house is haunted or there’s a killer in the woods, using media, particularly social media, just adds something fresh to a story. So having a killer stalk and murder influences via Instagram was a premise right up my alley. But as much as I loved the premise, to be very honest, I wasn’t expecting much from it. My guilty pleasure has always been mindless superficial slashers, and I thought #Killstagram would be just that. But I was pleasantly surprised to find it’s quite the opposite. #Killstagram features a rather intriguing plot that is championed by its fantastic heroine, Remi.
Remi is a really wonderful character to follow. Across all types of horror, characterisation is often secondary to ‘scares’ which take centre stage. But #Killstagram spent time carefully blending Remi’s character in with the actual plot. To be honest, at the beginning, she does a appear a bit two-dimensional – I mean there’s one point where she’s gleefully celebrating how pretty she is. But as the story progresses, and we learn more about her, we leave behind her superficial facade and get into who Remi really is. She’s a loyal friend, strong and resilient, ambitious and hard working. All of this only makes the audience more invested in Remi’s survival, she isn’t some caricature, she’s Remi. And no one wants to see Remi get hurt!
I will also make a note that the series does also delve into Remi’s past and themes like extreme bullying and abuse do come up. Webtoon does feature a content warning at the beginning of most chapters, but I also wanted to make a more detailed note of it here for any would-be readers.
If we’re talking about webtoons beside story and characters the third (and equally important) point is the art. The series really goes all in, in using contrast to highlight the different aspects of Remi’s life. Whenever she’s using social media, or is in a good frame of mind, pink and other pastels frame her world. It’s almost like she’s literally living life with rose coloured glasses (or filter, haha!). But any scenes with the killer are harsh and dark, as the series progress’s Remi’s world is quite literally coloured by the killer, slowly becoming more neutral and almost grey.
While I enjoyed the use of colour in the series, I did find the character designs to be a little awkward at times. In the example below, Remi is balancing on the outside of a building, trying to escape from an attacker. In the first image, it’s hard to quite get how Remi is positioned, she almost looks like she’s free falling in the air. The second, there’s just something completely off about the poses and all the detail is lost in the character design. This really took the tension out of the scene. This is just one example of an exciting scene being broken up. Sometimes, I would pause reading just to try to work out how characters were standing or posed.
As a small final note, while Remi as a character does sidestep a lot of horror cliches unfortunately the series doesn’t completely do away with them. There are a lot of parts where you have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy the series. The killer always makes a seamless escape through feats of superhuman abilities, the police refuse to believe the victim (despite some VERY obvious evidence – although perhaps this isn’t too far from reality) – these are tropes that are used time and again and do read as quite lazy. The story does use these cliches as a crutch, which ultimately stops it from being a top shelf series.
Overall, #Killstagram is a fun read for fans of thriller and slasher horror. It goes above its genre with a strong heroine and enticing story. But at times it falls just short of being truly great. As the English release of the series is halfway through season one, there’s definitely a lot of wiggle room for further development. Although the art might be something I will just get used to. But, I can still definitely say I’m going to be keeping my eye on the series, and can’t wait to see where it goes!
If you’d like to check out #Killstagram yourself, it’s available free to read on the webtoon app/ website.