"What starts as a great psychological zombie film with depth and great character development, soon unravels to the usual laughable character decisions and an all too neat and tidy ending."
The typical zombie film has become completely tiresome after all these years but somehow director Il Cho manages to breathe new life into a genre that feels tired and unoriginal. The array of zombie films coming from Korea over the last few years have been exceptional and I even enjoyed this film to a degree, but its few mishaps and common annoyances did take me out of the film and made me question how much I actually did enjoy #Alive.
Our protagonist Oh Joon-Woo (Ah-In Yoo) is a serious gamer, living in an apartment with his parents and sister. Though at the moment he is alone; his family are travelling and unfortunately, he hasn’t got much food in the flat. To give him credit he didn’t know shit was about to hit the fan. As the internet cuts out and he gets an emergency alert on his phone, the news starts reporting an outbreak. Looking down from his balcony we see the first impacts of this terrible outbreak; cars & fire engines crashing, people running around clueless & the infected jumping on and biting whomever they find. The zombie apocalypse has begun.
"Unseen in a zombie film or a horror is someone who has lost all sense of need to survive and you completely believe it from Oh Joon-Woo."
Where it differs from those that have come before is us focusing on Oh Joon-Woo and his need to survive. What really got me was the great understanding of what he was going through in regard to his isolation. After experiencing a pandemic, ourselves (obviously not to the same extent), I think we all are a little more attune to being isolated and that inherent feeling of hopefulness. You feel his angst as he tries to divide his food to make it last and his anguish as the water supply is cut off, requiring him to drink alcohol for hydration. What we see unfolding is one mans desperation to survive, if only to see his family again. A striking moment for me especially, was after fighting off a couple of zombies to get food from another apartment, he makes the decision to end his life by hanging. Unseen in a zombie film or a horror is someone who has lost all sense of need to survive and you completely believe it from Oh Joon-Woo.
He is luckily saved by his neighbour from a separate complex which is where the film starts with the common zombie horror clichés. Somehow surviving zombie attacks with a golf club, I couldn’t help but laugh constantly and the neighbour Kim (Shin-Hye Park) running around while dodging countless zombies, it is completely unbelievable. It all becomes something substantially less original than how it started and the third act truly suffers because of it. I was also kind of hoping for a bleak ending like The Mist, but unfortunately it ends happily. It is all a little too neat, but how you feel depends on whether in the third act you are wanting them to survive or to just succumb to those flesh-eating monsters.
So what starts as a great psychological zombie film with depth and great character development, soon unravels to the usual laughable character decisions and an all too neat and tidy ending.