Many people may consider now to be a bad time to release a new zombie apocalypse film, as the pandemic is on everyone’s mind. However, thriller #Alive has become a blockbuster in its home country, South Korea, and has taken the global number one spot on Netflix just two days after its online premiere.
Based on the original script #Alone from Hollywood screenwriter Matt Naylor, #Alive, like many other zombie thrillers, begins with humanity falling victim to an unknown virus causing “cannibalistic behaviour”.
A lazy teenage gamer Joon-woo (played by Yoo Ah-in) wakes up one morning to find that his parents have already gone to work, leaving him instructions on how to take care of himself while they’re gone. Then Joon-woo, who previously would have barely survived a day without his mum cooking his meals, has to learn to take care of himself amidst a zombie outbreak when his family does not return.
Although the power stays on, Joon-woo gradually loses access to running water, internet access and phone networks. After days of barricading himself inside his apartment, running dangerously low on food and losing hope that his family has survived, Joon-Woo tries to commit suicide. He is saved by Yoo-bin, a girl from his neighbourhood, and they embark on a dangerous journey to stay alive in a human-eat-human world.
One remarkable feature of #Alive is its level of originality, creating a fresh twist on the zombie genre, similar to another South Korean thriller Train to Busan. Most zombie movies involve the suspenseful scavenging of supermarkets and horrifying views of an apocalyptic world. Alternatively, the first half of #Alive focusses only on Joon-woo’s personal experience living alone in a zombie-surrounded complex, including his depression and anxiety caused by occasional attacks.
The significant focus on social media brings the film’s modern image to the forefront. However, the exposition is very limited due to a lack of backstory, and so is the dialogue, resulting in a sort of suspenseful parody of Home Alone.
#Alive does not have much to offer when it comes to action scenes, but the existing one is practical and realistic. The actors are frantically fighting in the scene, as if their life depends on it, giving viewers realist thrills rather than un-relatable superhuman traits.
Yoo Ah-in, who plays Joon-woo, has both the talent and the image for the role of a downhearted teenage boy, despite being 33 years old. Park Shin-hye also deserves praise for playing the cool-headed and brave Yoo-bin, but her character’s late introduction limits her contribution to the film.
Watching this zombie thriller feels current and almost too close-to-home, reliving the horrors of the lockdown. Obviously the ongoing pandemic is not comparable to a zombie outbreak, but what the film does (spoiler alert) is give a slice of hope to the viewer rather than instilling fear, and delivers the message that the solution to any problem is staying positive. #IwillSurvive.
- Tags: Netflix