One would think that with all the zombie movies that exist, studios will realize that it’s never really about the undead, but the living. Fortunately, for every one hundred Peninsula kind of zombie movie, there’s #Alive.
The brilliance of this movie lies in a tight script that ensures the movie isn’t dumbed-down and becomes too contrived and monotonous. It focuses on the human story, uses scares when it’s necessary, and creates dynamic characters.
We are shown that Joon-Wo is a tech-savvy gamer who lives with his mom and his sister. There is a note telling him to buy groceries. This doesn’t matter much at first until he turns on the news and sees what’s happening outside of his apartment building. A neighbor forcibly gets into his apartment and Joon-Wo – along with the audience – is introduced to what he’s dealing with.
#Alive flips the typical zombie genre template by having the protagonist stuck at home, forced to wait, wonder, and survive on increasingly dwindling resources (remember the note about groceries?). It’s a timely reflection of what people around the world are experiencing today.
Boredom and anxiety are the worst of combinations that we can all attest to. When you don’t have much to do but think and worry, especially in a zombie apocalypse, it eventually gets to you. Fortunately for Joon-Wo, the mysterious Kim Yoo-bin comes along.
The script doesn’t tell us much about these two survivors, but they’re given a character arc within the story. Using their own ingenuity they manage to get by and rely on each other. This and great performances from Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye make you root for them.
The zombies here are not as detailedly gory as the ones from The Walking Dead, but they look gruesome enough. The movie uses its scares sparingly – providing emotional moments, building the setting, and adding surprises. The sound design too is used as needed to build tension and amplify jumpscares.
#Alive doesn’t really try anything new beyond its premise. There a few nifty zombie kills before the movie follows a predictable route. To be fair, it’s clear that the movie doesn’t promise to be another World War Z or It Comes at Night. The one thing that makes #Alive different in a genre that’s nearly impossible to stand out in is it does its best, in what it set out to do.
#Alive is a memorable human story in a devastating event.
#Alive is an entertaining zombie thriller with a gripping human story, unique setting, and characters you can't help but root for.