#Alive : Movie Review


A Netflix original Korean zombie horror movie! A super frightening claustrophobic horror movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. One of the best modern zombie movies of the 21st century. Another example of horror zombie excellence from our Korean friends!

Directed by Il Cho · David Marantz and with a running time of 1 hour and 38 minutes (slightly less due to credits). Rated 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. This foreign movie was nominated for best actor for Yoo Ah-in!

Where to begin? Well, the movie starts off pretty quickly and soon we learn that the country has been plunged into an unexpected and sudden state of emergency with ferocious acts of cannibalism and attacks being recorded in multiple provinces. Our main character, Oh Joon-woo, a man who lives alone, is glued to his tv as the news reports come in thick and fast detailing the attacks and telling people… do not leave your homes. Naturally, those who leave are killed and turned into these dangerous and disturbing creatures. Zombies!

It must be said, those who stay inside and obey the rules and follow the tv advice, manage to survive. I can see parallels between the current world crisis and this movie, perhaps sending a dangerous message to people. I understand this is a work of fiction, but let’s be honest, there are clear connections between the movie and the pandemic.*

The first encounter with any potential infected comes from his neighbour who is banging on Oh Joo-woo’s door to let him in as the building is invaded with infected zombies and the tenants are making a mad dash to escape. We see that the neighbour is seemingly okay but our main character is defensive and on edge, exactly how we want him and this is not only some good movie making, but great scripting and acting. I always find it annoying when people let anyone into their ‘safe zone’ and then they have to defeat someone who hid their wounds and bites away and later turned. The neighbour uses the rest room and this is when the main character learns from the tv that the afflicted are turning cannibalistic. When the neighbour leaves the rest room Oh Joo-woo uses a golf club (I think, struggling to recall what he uses) to push the neighbour back and toward the door. Of course, he begins to turn, this is frightening and the sense of claustrophobia is overwhelming as we can see there is nowhere to escape too. The zombie is killed and now the real fight for survival begins.

Low on food and water our survivor is young and desperate. He uses his phone and social media to keep in contact with the outside world, to only a limited time and not for very long. This is a great integration of modern tech and social media into a movie and realistically fits well into the overall story. A message from his mum reads ‘You must survive’ and this becomes a movie motto throughout, a kind of mantra that our hero uses as he battles day to day. Quickly realising he is low on food and that the water has been turned off… but not the internet… which again is used to good affect. We get to realise that there is a slither of hope as the contact with the outside world is maintained in the background of the movie. An online clip of a young man leaning from a skyrise balcony to get a signal and then falling… proves extremely hilarious yet hides a dark humour that lingers throughout the film. Dark humour, perhaps deadpan to an extent, but this is no comedy, this is a serious and depressing look at a frightening reality.

The zombies are scary, haunting and can leave you with nightmares. Given that the building harbours narrow corridors and dozens of the dead, both inside and outside the apartments, we know that our hero will struggle to get anywhere. His first depressing and stealthy journey out of the apartment are vivid, the hallways painted in blood and the dead shambling around in packs. He has to travel to another apartment to look for food. Inside he begins to start to ‘steal’ other items and has a bit of a good time doing so, again that dark humour, but then he is attacked. #

The Koreans deserve more praise on the international horror stage, in particular with regards to zombie movies. The makeup, acting and horror and tension in these movies are extremely terrifying. Train to Busan was a great example of what our Korean friends can do. Although the movie is in Korean it has been overdubbed with English actors and actresses, so no need to worry about subtitles!

Oh Joo-woo soon discovers a young, pretty woman in the apartment block across the square, as he is attempting to hang himself. It is hard to imagine anyone being #alive given the viciousness and amount of undead in and out of the apartment blocks. Kim Yoo-Bin, another lone survivor and a competent, able to handle herself female, depicted extremely well and not in the sort of way women are usually portrayed in zombie movies. She is very much a main character worthy of the respect and praise that Oh Joo-woo is. They are equal. A relationship of some sorts forms. Our hero, using his drone (which he has used before) and his mobile, is able to communicate with the girl. They soon start to plan to meet and get together and you can’t help but feel happy for both of them, even if that seems impossible. Food is exchanged using a line that extended between the blocks and soon Kim Yoo-Bin is fighting her way across the square to the other apartment block.

The pair have a bit of time to survive and explore, and there is a tense, frightening zombie pursuit scene within the complex which was brilliantly done. Opening the elevator to a load of zombies? Scary! This does point to some plot holes. The water has been long turned off, yet the electric in the building still runs. Why is this? The only assumption I can make is that the authorities turned the water off because they don’t know whether it is spread through the water or not. Realistic or what! Given that the electric is still on, we know that the whole country isn’t overrun and their is hope.

Moving on, I will leave you to watch the end part of the movie. The ending was oddly satisfying. ‘I must survive’. A number of days has passed, weeks to months in fact and it seemed impossible that anyone might make it out #alive.

Terrifying, brilliant acting, lighting, make-up, storyline and integration of real world issues to the movie.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

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