#Alive (2020) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

#Alive (2020) Review

Horrorific content by Christina Dee on September 29th, 2020 | Movie Review | Survival, Zombie, Isolation, Virus

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As a grisly virus rampages a city, a lone man stays locked inside his apartment, digitally cut off from seeking help and desperate to find a way out.

#Alive was directed by Il Cho and stars Yoo Ah-In, Park Shin-Hye (from The Evil Twin), Lee Hyun-Wook and Jeon Bae-Soo.

You Must Survive

Alive Review

If you’re a zombie fan who’s been hungry lately for new material, then 2020’s #Alive should probably be somewhere on your watchlist. It’s South Korea’s latest take on the classic zombie apocalypse idea, and it’s now available to stream on Netflix as of September 8th. #Alive is directed by Cho Il-Hyung and is based on Matt Naylor’s 2019 script, Alone.

If there’s a horror movie that’s an ideal streaming choice for 2020 as it’s been playing out so far, #Alive is a pretty good candidate. If nothing else, it’s a reminder that grueling COVID lockdowns are a walk in the park compared to what protagonist, Joon-woo (Yoo Ah-in) is going through. He’s a millennial gamer who’s just woken up to find that the world as he knows it is gone, replaced by a zombie-filled world gone crazy.

His family is away, and he can see masses of people devouring each other in the streets from his balcony. The government has reportedly lost control of the situation, and Joon-woo prepares to try to wait out the incident. However, as he begins to lose access to essentials like the internet and running water while running low on food, it becomes clear that he’ll need to take action to save himself. When he joins forces with a neighbor, Yoo-bin (Park Shin-hye), the two prepare to survive any way they can.

If you’ve seen your share of zombie apocalypse movies in your time, you already know that they’re less about zombies and more about human tenacity. Like other films in this sub-genre, #Alive explores familiar themes like hope, despair, and everything in between through the stories of Joon-woo and Yoo-bin. Joon-woo especially struggles to find the will and the resources to survive from hour to hour with nothing but the most uncertain future to look forward to. In that regard, #Alive brings little to the table that is new or groundbreaking in any way.

The plot is deceptively simple, and there’s not much about Joon-woo that’s unusual, but that’s part of what works about this film. He could be anyone, including any one of the viewers watching his on-screen exploits. The script is also more intelligent than one might expect in exploring as many possible obstacles as possible when it comes to hunkering down in isolation during a state of emergency.

Given the timeliness of the film, it almost feels like it could have been made after the pandemic began. In actuality, it was shot several months before anyone had even heard of coronavirus. It certainly does an excellent job of capturing the soup of emotions many viewers might be feeling in their day-to-day life currently – fear, anxiety, desperation, hope, and so much more.

Ah-in shines in #Alive as Joon-woo. For much of the film, his character is all by himself and plays to an empty room, but his performance is so solid here, it’s easy to forget that. We watch Joon-woo go through a full symphony of different emotions during our time with him – everything from devastation to wry humor – and he nails them all. The zombie effects are also really decent, but as is the case with most zombie apocalypse film, #Alive isn’t about them so much as it’s about the people struggling to survive.

Worth Watching?

So should you pull the trigger on this one and check it out, or are you better off streaming one of the many other new releases out now? Let’s just say that #Alive is the number one movie on Netflix currently for an excellent reason – it’s a good watch with solid performances, one that’s all the scarier because of its correlation to global current events.

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