Creators: Chun Sung-il, Lee Jae-kyoo, Kim Nam-su
Cast: Park Ji-hu, Yoon Chan-young, Cho Yi-hyun, Park Solomon, Yoo In-soo, Lee Yoo-mi, Kim Byung-chul, Lee Kyu-hyung
Genre: Horror thriller
Episodes: 12 of approx. 53 minutes each
Release date: January 27, 2022
‘All of Us Are Dead’ is the latest Netflix hit to come out from South Korea after ‘Squid Game’ and ‘Hellbound’ reached #1 on the streaming platform last year. This horror K-drama follows a bunch of teen students at Hyosan High School who must deal with a sudden outbreak of a zombie virus.
After a mad scientist fails in his latest endeavor to create a superhuman, a virus gets leaked from his lab. In almost an hour, flesh-eating hungry zombies with their smelly, rotting corpses are ready to catch hold of any human alive and gobble them up.
When the school and government authorities fail to rescue the school kids trapped in the zombie-infested school compound, it is up to different friend groups to take matters in their own hands and make it out alive.
‘All of Us Are Dead’ is extremely entertaining with some highly suspenseful scenes. The situations succeed in grabbing and keeping the viewers’ attention with the exceptional set design, stunts, and the various setups.
These set-ups include actors leaping from bookshelf to bookshelf at the school library while scores of zombies below outstretch their arms hungrily. There are scenes of students climbing a rope across the outside school wall, dealing with school-athletes-turned-zombies at the basketball court, and even some impressive archery from two school champions.
All of this creates tension expertly. The actors, especially the younger ones, do a remarkable job to show us terror and rage as well as innocence, optimism and budding love.
The screenwriters’ choice in going beyond the high school is also commemdable as they take us through the perspectives of an ensemble group of characters outside the school.
So we get a fireman, a mayor, an army commander, a video streamer and a detective; this wide range of characters successfully display the ambitiously epic scale of this K-horror.
It’s impressive to see the vast range of locations all around Hyosan and different characters struggling in their own way to make sense of a country thrown into turmoil.
If ‘All Of Us’ falls short on some things it is the slow pace which will test some viewers’ patience. With its twelve 50-minute episodes, the show sometimes feels like it could do with a faster pace and fewer episodes.
The first episode feels a tad slow as it takes its time to establish the high school characters with subplots. Not all will find the first bit intriguing as the subplots in question are typical romcom, slice-of-life stories. The real excitement begins much later in the episode when the zombie virus breaks out.
Moreover, the storyline of the mad scientist explaining his motive for creating a deadly virus feels too corny and unreasonable that it will make some viewers chuckle instead of thinking deeply about the injustice that pushed him to be this way.
Those with a repulsion to gore and body horror will need to sit this one out as the show is packed with bloody violence and disturbing scenes.
A disclaimer for those who are sensitive to scenes of sexual violence: There is a subplot established from the first episode which gets referenced throughout, and it involves some delinquent boys who coerce a teen girl to strip and then film her.
They then threaten to leak the video if they don’t get paid a sum of money on time. This disturbing and all too relevant subplot feels out of place in a show about zombies which is usually silly and fun.
The fact that this subplot is utilized to portray the so-called ‘evilness’ of humanity but never resolves into a proper climax or catharsis for the characters, and gets swept under the carpet to focus on more large-scale action instead, feels insensitive and disrespectful at times.
A heavy subject matter such as sexual violence on teens is not something that works well as a minor subplot of a far lighter and fantasy-driven narrative.
Besides this, ‘All of Us Are Dead’ is a roller coaster full of suspense, entertainment, heartbreak and humour with lots and lots of blood and bone-cracking.
While most characters start off as thinly written and bland, we get to know them over time and grow to sympathize with them so that when it’s time to say goodbye, the audience will be misty-eyed.
While it is not as path-breakingly addictive or iconic or even as meme-worthy as last year’s ‘Squid Game’, ‘All of Us’ is perhaps the best zombie entertainer to come out from Korea since 2016’s ‘Train To Busan’ (which the show amusingly references in a dialogue). We are sincerely hoping for a Season 2 of this popcorn-muncher.
Also, props to the young actors (who are probably professional dancers) and their choreography because when they morph into raging zombies, it’s thoroughly entrancing to witness.
‘All Of Us Our Dead’ is now streaming on Netflix. It is currently ranking #1 on TV Shows Today.
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