#Alive is Pretty Damn #Good

#Alive is one zombie flick genre fans will love and newcomers will enjoy, with some drawbacks

What do you get when you throw a total #gamer into a total #zombie apocalypse? You get Cho-Ilhyung’s #Alive. The film, starring Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-ye, revolves around the aforementioned gamer guy who just happens to be shooting some baddies in a Call of Duty clone when the world ends. He peeks outside to see some mass hysteria and decides: maybe it’s best to stay in today (as he does everyday). He’s only got morsels to ration over sixty days and a missing family weighing heavy on his conscience. Was this South Korean flick a banger or a bust?

The #Pros

Yoo Ah-In holding up a walkie talkie
Yoo Ah-in plays the perfect scaredy cat gamer. (image credit: Lotte Entertainment)

First thing’s first, the acting is top notch from both of our leads. Ah-in plays the perfect gamer dweeb and Shin-ye, the badass heroine who teaches the dweeb to be less of one. The side characters toss out respectable performances as well and I didn’t catch any over/underacting. The characters, while kind of one-dimensional and never fleshed out, work for the purpose of the film and the message it tries to get across. They have an intelligence to them that is refreshing in the sphere of zombie films.

The cinematography and special effects are also top notch. In #Alive, you’ll find awesome zombie transformations and gore work. The camera cuts make sense and the color grading is fitting for the darker tone of the film. The actual film and its moving parts are all great. The issues come when we throw a plot and storyline on top of these parts and try to make it something new and unique.

The #Cons

The netflix poster for #Alive, featuring Shin-ye and Ah-in smacking some zombies around
The film dazzled Netflix and it stands out as one of their better horror flicks. (image credit: Lotte Entertainment/Netflix)

#Alive does a lot of things right, but it also has some key plot errors that confounded me. I won’t spoil anything major here, but I was confused by the logistics of the apocalypse and how certain things like tv newscasters still showing up to work was normalized. Like, how are you going to be reporting the news in a nicely tailored suit during the zombie apocalypse? How are tv stations still functioning? We don’t get to really know how widespread this is though, so I’ll give them that.

Here are some more questions that irked me. Where did the virus come from? If zombies can open doors and go to work, how did Shin-ye last so long with her only form of protection being a chair on some rope? Why don’t we get any backstory on these characters? A lot of the film’s flaws lie in what isn’t shown, versus what is. The story lacks explanation and we get a very present, real time zombie scenario. This is fantastic in some ways, but it still has drawbacks. 

The acting was great, as I mentioned, but the characters are not written too deeply to begin with. They have maybe a dimension and a half. The half being the sad factor the writers added to connect the two main characters thematically. Ah-in is quite the flat character, if you ask me. Sun-ye has more mystery, but this is never resolved. So while the film has its strength in its cinematography and acting, it lacks in the actual writing.

Overall, would I recommend watching #Alive? If you are a big zombie flick fan and a fan of great performances with emotional depth, this is a great film. Just be aware that a lot of your questions won’t be answered.

By John Castro

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