I have to give credit to Village: Secret Of Achiara for attempting something different in the milieu of kdramas that usually have same, run-of-the-mill plots and tropes that get recycled again and again. It’s another thing to wonder if it succeeds in its task or not. Well, yes and not totally yes.
The story of the drama is set in a small village of Achiara where Han So Yoon arrives to search answers about her family. A body is found in this peaceful village one day and that brings turbulence in everyone’s life and we see that there are many skeletons in everybody’s cupboard here. Also, there is a serial killer in the area who is causing great distress for the police as well as the citizens.
A murder mystery at heart, Village: Secret Of Achiara does an excellent job in maintaining its mystery, interest and suspense throughout its length of 16 episodes — no small feat as there is always the danger of running out of steam, plot or giving away the secret too early on. It consists of a large number of characters and all are very interesting and painted with depth. The writer binds everyone and everything with a deft hand and except for some minor things, there are no loose ends anywhere. The village setting adds an extra dose of intrigue, atmosphere and creepiness to the whole proceeding. It’s like there are lots of puzzle pieces and finally, one-by-one the picture becomes clear. There is also an overarching theme that provides weight to this thriller. The background score is good but in the initial episodes, it is overplayed so much that it becomes irksome. Another good thing is staying away from romance. In a way, the drama breaks lots of stereotypes of kdramas and that’s a welcome thing in my book.
The thing missing here is the degree to which it manages to bring thrills and chills. It’s a good mystery but the sense of nail-biting tension and crisp execution is missing. Also, Moon Geun Young is good as our protagonist but her character is very less interesting and is more about reaction than action. All other characters are far more interesting than her. Then I’m not entirely satisfied with the culminating arc for certain people in the drama. Also, there is unclear and unsatisfactory mix of supernatural elements and reliance on them for some crucial discoveries, which was a let down. The cops are better than the usual good-for-nothing cops we get in dramaland but their skills keep on switching from good to bad.
The selection of the cast is spot on. Shin Eun Kyung as the wife of the richest man of village is equally at home peddling vulnerability and shrewdness. Then there is Choi Jae Woong who is brilliant as Aghashi, a mysterious man in the village. Jang So Yun is another stand out and Jang Hee Jin plays her role with lots of grace and enigma. Yook Sung Jae is a cutie pie (Okay, I had to say this. LOL) — he pleasantly plays the cop who is over excited and enthusiastic to solve a crime in a place which normally doesn’t get many cases to do so.
All in all, Village: Secret Of Achiara is a good murder mystery with many twists and turns and cliffhangers to whet the appetite of the fans of the genre, with support from top-notch acting and characters.
My Rating: 7 out of 10