While horror fans eagerly wait for ‘Train to Busan’ sequel to arrive on Netflix or any streaming platform, director Cho II-hyung’s South-Korean zombie film “#Alive” seemed to offer a perfect distraction.
The plot is standard zombie territory – an unknown virus sweeps through cities and turns people extremely violent and cannibalistic. The makers waste no time in setting things up and diving into chaos.
Actor Yoo Ah-in plays the protagonist Joon-Woo, a gamer, who wakes up to a message from his mother that his folks have headed out and he should buy some groceries. He chooses to play games first (obviously) and while still at the console, he finds out people are going crazy on the streets outside the building. Cut to zombies ruthlessly eating humans, while a horrified Joon-Woo watches the mayhem from his window. Television news helps him understand the situation and the rest of the film is about Joon surviving alone in his flat.
I loved how the film starts, Joon looks the part of a gamer, who might slay monsters virtually, but in real life? Not so much. This film had so much going on in its favour, but the scriptwriters put in too many glaring and unnecessary loopholes that completely spoils all the fun. For example, Joon soon runs out of water, but 5 days later, he still looks absolutely fine. How? At one point, he is surviving on alcohol, which should lead to more dehydration, but Joonie looks as lively as ever. So, logic can go to zombie hell.
The movie also gets slow and irritating towards the second half. There of-course comes a point where Joonie boy is losing his sanity while zombie hordes continue to walk the streets. But just when Joonie decides maybe he should kill himself, a girl from the opposite building flashes a laser beam on him and gives him hope.
“Where the hell was she all these days?!” I wonder out loud at the cheesy convenient new entry. But at this point, the viewer is relieved at the new character, because just ‘Joonie against the flesh-eaters’ starts to get tiring.
What makes for the biggest disappointment in the zombie film is that there is very little action. There is one sequence where the girl hacks her way with an axe through the zombie masses and I can’t even begin to tell you how underwhelming the scene was. It was very unrealistic, because there are hundreds of those monsters and this chick manages to survive it all. My deal is – if you are going to make it over-exaggerated, why not go the extra mile and give us some kick-ass action? I am talking ‘resident evil’ type, where the girl kills it. Our silly Joonie just equips himself with a stupid hockey stick. Dude you are supposed to be a pro-gamer, is that all you can think of?!
The climax was also frustratingly slow and slightly idiotic. Just like most South-Korean films, director Cho tries to give us some poignant emotional moments, but just doesn’t hit the right chords. ‘#Alive” just does not have enough heart in it and is a mediocre forgettable zombie caper. Although it had all the ingredients to be a cult classic. Or maybe I have very high standards. This film was a 5/10 for me.