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[Review] ‘#ALIVE’: A Survival Thriller Film with the Hope of “Living Together”

Edited by Hong Hyun Jung

Translated by Kim Hoyeun

For us who are living in the COVID-19 era, a movie that strangely coincides with the current situation is eye-catching. As the unknown virus spreads, #ALIVE, which depicts the survival of two isolated young people, Jun Woo and Yoo Bin, expands the world of K-Zombie to the next level and brings up the topic of “survival.”

Credit: Lotte Entertainment

After waking up late in the day, Jun Woo is preoccupied with playing the game as usual and later realizes that the outside situation is unusual. The apartment complex has turned into chaos, entangled with those who are running away and those who are attacking, and he is the only one inside the house after his entire family has gone out. And at that moment, Jun Woo’s desperate survival begins. No matter how much he watches TV, he can’t find out the cause or the solution of the situation, and he has no way of reaching his family. On top of that, there is not enough food as he ignored his mother’s memo to go buy groceries. To make things worse, data and Wi-Fi are all cut off, and he is disconnected from the world.

The movie goes straight into the main story. Instead of explaining where the virus originated and who the main characters are, it solely shows Jun Woo’s struggles to survive in an apartment that has turned into a killing frenzy and focuses on his emotions. The flow of emotion in a minimal space is ever-changing. Jun Woo, who was afraid and confused at first since he couldn’t understand what was happening, is gripped by deep despair and loneliness as time goes by. Albeit dramatic, Jun Woo’s situation is not so different from audiences who have been keeping social distancing since February. We naturally immerse in his desperate desires he faces in extreme situations.

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The fact that the main character is an ordinary young man who can be seen everywhere and that the story is set in a corridor-style block also raises the sense of reality. Jun Woo is not a young man who is adept at dealing with disaster-like situations. He is immature, makes mistakes, acts rashly, and explodes with unstable emotions. The corridor-style block, which we are so familiar with, has become the epicenter of the rapid spread of the virus. In particular, people infected with virus roaming around to seek prey are seen through the window, so he cannot be relieved just because he is inside his house. Tensions escalate as infected people react to small noises, threatening the space he should feel comfortable in.

#ALIVE enlivens the story by clearly portraying the two contrasted characters facing the disaster that has arrived just around the corner. In front of Jun Woo, who is on edge and in fear of getting attacked, another survivor Yoo Bin appears, marking a dramatic turn. Yoo Bin calmy and boldly learned how to survive even in an uncontrollable situation, and gives hope to Jun Woo, who is in despair. Jun Woo, who struggled with desperation, meets Yoo Bin to find hope once again, and Yoo Bin, who thoroughly plans and moves according to plan, also regains her will to live thanks to Jun Woo, another survivor. As the two join forces to survive together, the play flows more urgently.

Credit: Lotte Entertainment

Unlike other K-Zombie films, which conveyed the social criticisms, #ALIVE is refreshing in that it thoroughly focuses on survival. By realistically portraying the unprecedented disaster in the everyday space of ordinary people, it develops empathy. The characteristics of apartments inhabited by countless households bring about crisis and isolation, and the two survivors make use of digital devices and camping supplies that they are familiar with. In a situation where the choices and conflicts of survivors continue, unnecessary narratives are excluded as much as possible, and the tension unique to the zombie genre is seen throughout the film.

Maybe it’s because masks still hold an essential part of our lives due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. We find ourselves cheering for Jun Woo and Yoo Bin to get through any dangerous situations and be rescued safely. The two survivors’ will to live with someone rather than staying alone subtlely matches this era. The movie is getting released on June 24.

Verdict: Evolved K-Zombie film that depicts the survival of the “Stay at Home” era. (7/10)

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