#Alive Review

This review will have spoilers, so beware!

Ben Krueger, Contributing Writer

#Alive is a Korean film directed by Il Cho and was released on Netflix earlier this month. The movie follows a man named Oh Joon-woo as he’s stuck in an apartment building during a zombie pandemic. This feels pretty relevant given the current COVID-19 pandemic, but thankfully we don’t have to deal with zombies on top of everything. Oh, tries to wait out the pandemic, but it becomes more and more prevalent that he must venture out at some point to get more supplies. This movie is an interesting take on the zombie genre, and I think its generally a good watch for most horror fans.

The film starts with the main character, Oh, waking up and finding that his family is out for the day. Looking outside, he finds that people are running away from swarming zombies. He is understandably terrified, and a man comes in. The man is obviously infected, and eventually Oh pushes him out. 

This is where one of my issues with the film comes in: unexplored plotlines. Peering outside into the hallway, a much larger zombie kills the zombified man he just pushed out by throwing him against the wall. Zombie-on-zombie violence never comes up again, and this behavior is never explored. A similarly unexplored plotline comes up soon after when Oh watches a policewoman get dragged by zombies into a subway station. I thought this would be a cool reveal later, with Oh needing to traverse the dark subways or that there might be something larger down there that the smaller zombies were serving. However, they never so much as talk about this point again, and it seems to only serve as a plot device for Oh pick up a gun.

The general design, atmosphere, and makeup in the film are actually quite good. Some of the shots in this movie are quite memorable, making good use of lighting and making the hallways of the apartments feel cramped and dangerous. The zombies are the fast, twitchy type, similar to those in Train to Busan, The Girl With All The Gifts, and Kingdom. They show varying levels of intelligence but are generally lean towards unintelligent and animalistic. The action in the film is quite tense, I found, but there’s a lot of logic used, as characters figure out how to use what they have lying around in their apartments to survive. These sequences are very fun, and probably one of my favorite parts of the film. One particularly funny inversion of this stuck out to me toward the end, where Oh tries to blast zombies with a fire hose, only for it not to work, so he just throws it at them instead.

The two main characters, Oh and Kim are a mixed bag. While Kim is a pragmatic beast and seems to generally know what she’s doing, she does also gets into some “damsel in distress” situations which I felt didn’t fit her character. Oh is the central protagonist, occupying an interesting niche of having clever solutions and being comedic relief while also being a bit of a clown. They’re definitely fine enough characters for a horror movie. The film also deals with themes of isolation, loss, and motivation. It executes these themes just fine but doesn’t do anything profound with them.

At the end of the day, #Alive uses its unique premise pretty well. The action had me worrying for the characters, the problem-solving was interesting and smart, and the cinematography was pretty. Some aspects were just fine, such as the character depth and general philosophy of the film. The only major complaint I have at the end of the day is some weird character decisions, along with unexplored ideas that could have been very intriguing. If you’re a fan of horror and zombies like me, definitely give this film a try.