Hollywood may be the center of the entertainment universe, but it is far from the only provider of quality content. For decades, Korean cinema has delivered top-notch entertainment rarely appreciated here in the United States. Bong Joon-Ho’s Oscar-winning masterpiece Parasite has finally brought a bit more mainstream recognition to South Korea’s blazing cinema. But there’s still so much more to be enjoyed.
One such guilty pleasure flick is the 2020 zombie drama #Alive, which recently became available to stream on Netflix and has already entered the streamer’s self-reported top-10. As a grisly virus rampages through Seoul, a lone man with a passion for gaming stays locked inside his apartment, digitally cut off from seeking help and desperate to find a way out.
#Alive makes a point to de-emphasize technology, with our protagonists Jun-u and Yu-bin cut off from cell phone service, WiFi, and other modern advantages. All they can rely on is the scattered TV news reports and what they can witness from their own apartment windows. Though not a Netflix original—the film was released in South Korea on June 24, grossing upwards of $13 million—#Alive pairs nicely with Netflix’s Kingdom. That series is a South Korean political period horror thriller that sees a zombie virus sweep through Korea’s Joseon period, which stretched from 1392 to 1897. Then there’s also Train to Busan in case that’s not enough zombie material for you.
Come to think of it, this genre sure has an impressive level of staying power.
#Alive doesn’t throw too many new curveballs at audiences, instead relying on the familiar tropes to entertain. In the midst of a pandemic, one can question how attractive a film about a deadly virus may be. But #Alive is fun and easy enough thanks to its two entertaining leads and its occasionally snazzy technical proficiency to pass the time.