The 2020 Korean zombie movie was directed by Cho Il-Hyung and written alongside Matt Naylor. It’s the story of Oh Joon-woo ( Yoo Ah-hin ), a young man surviving in his zombie surrounded apartment.
Some spoilers ahead
Oh, a video game sreamer is in his Seoul apartment, minding his business, when out of nowhere, a zombie virus takes over the city. The innocent bystanders are eaten alive while the local emergency services are called in to fight off the horde, failing miserably. Quickly after, the phone and electrical connections get cut off. The Wi-fi signal however, survives. Oh broadcasting his life on social media with the hashtag “alive”. Not being able to leave his apartment, he quickly runs out of food, his last meal being a pack of ramen noodles, which somehow last him for over a week. After running out of water, he indulgesbegins indulging in alcohol.
He runs out of food, water and hope. To end the hopeless life he has, he tries to hang himself. Getting stopped by a mysterious laser pointer, communicating with him. It’s a girl from an apartment across him named Kim Yoo-bin ( Park Shin-hye ). He frees himself and the two develope a bizarre walkie-talkie based friendship. After a few days, Kim makes a break to his apartment through the zombie-infested streets, grabbing a handgun on the way. She’s surrounded. Getting Deus ex machina’d by Oh. They make it back into his apartment building.
Instead of retreating to his apartment, they go to the eight floor, once again getting Deus ex machina’d. This time it’s by a masked man throwing smoke grenades. The nameless character tells them of a broadcast he heard that the military is out to save survivors. He offers them food, water and shelter in his apartment. Then again, we can’t have another nice character out of nowhere, he drugged them. Making them both nearly unconcious, he ties their hands. He puts Kim in a room with his rope-tied zombified-wife. Oh, struggling to stand, he attacks the man. Kim breaks free and the wife eats the husband. Kim giving them a mercy kill, attracting the neighboring zombies.
The two run up the stairs, using inanimate objects to fend off the dozens of zombies. They make it and lock the door behind them. The zombies break through, out of hopelessness they go to the edge of the roof-until they get another Deus ex machina. This time by military helicopters, gunning down the roof zombies, rescuing our two survivors. The end.
Alive was one of the greatest foreign language films I’ve ever seen. Having heard several ‘Film YouTubers’ rave about the outstanding quality of Korea cinema, particulary Korean horror ( the only other Korean film I’d seen was Snowpiercer, which I thought was good ), I went into this movie with high expectations. These expectations were filled and then some. Even though the English translation doesn’t at always quite mimic with the words said by any of the characters and the ocassionally bizarre translation issues ( it’s like that with all translated movies ) the movie kept a conistent tone, portrayed by the well-written atmosphere of zombie infested Seoul.
The film also felt weirdly tailored to modern day quarantine, not being able to leave your apartment without the constant threat of recieving a virus, feeling isolated from the rest of the world etc. It’s almost as if the writers predicted Corona and picked the perfect time to make a movie about it.
Overall, this film was well paced, didn’t get boring and also probably saved about 10% of it’s budget on product placement from Nutella. I’d give this film a 7.5/10.