After Fulci’s barely moving undead, the running zombies of #Alive are a bit of a shock. Technology is an ally here, which is refreshing in a horror film, although at the start, Joon-woo seems to be in a semi-infantile state, still living with his parents, and spending most of his spare time playing video games. He lives on the third floor of an eight-storey apartment complex in Seoul. When a zombie virus hits his part of the city, his parents are out, and he barricades himself in the apartment. Alone, he resolves to survive, but having chosen to play his video game over buying food as his mother asked, he has no supplies.
It reminded me strongly of the French film, The Night Eats the World, which has a man holed up alone in a swanky Parisian apartment block after a zombie virus. There are several parallels with it, from how the zombies behave, to survival methods, to the arrival of another person at the mid-point. The apartment block corridors are effectively awful spaces for zombie chases. #Alive brings the extra ingredient of technology into the mix. While he has no mobile signal or internet connection, he can still pilot a drone, and it is the message he posts on social media just before the connections go down that gives him his best chance of survival.
The relationship he strikes up with Yoo-bin, who is holed up in the apartment opposite him, is sweet, and she is the brains in their partnership. It’s a coming-of-age story underneath the standard zombie story tropes. It doesn’t shy away from the desperation and despair Joon-woo experiences, but at heart it’s an action-romance for teenagers, and no worse for that.
Letterboxd: #Alive (2020), dir. Cho Il-hyung.