Spoilers are cutting class today.
I’m loving Netflix series coming out from non-english speaking countries, specially Korean ones. You have to admit they’re second to none in what horror is concerned, because they understand what makes horror great is drama and social commentary. No other horror sub-genre illustrates that better than the zombie film, and to make an entire series devoted to both outbreak and full urban breakdown is genius, if done right. Get ready to get schooled.
All of Us Are Dead (2022) was written by Chun Sung-il and directed by Lee Jae-kyoo and Kim Nam-su. It is is Based on the webtoon Now at Our School by Joo Dong-geun. I haven’t read the source material, and honestly I’d rather stick to the show only for now. It’s a normal day in a regular high school in the province of Hyosan, South Korea, until the outbreak of a virus turns students into zombies. The students must fight to stay alive as the virus spreads and the entire school and the city become infected. Left to their own devices and with scarce resources, they must somehow band together to survive as their numbers dwindle. The cast includes Park Ji-hoo, Yoon Chan-young, Cho Yi-hyun, Park Solomon, Yoo In-soo, Lee Yoo-mi, Kim Byung-chul, Lee Kyu-hyung, and Jeon Bae-soo.
It’s a zombie film set in high school, with all the usual trappings of nerds, bullies, jocks forming complex relationships that don’t really disappear just because it’s the zombie apocalypse. You also have the military isolating the area while politicians still demand special treatment. You can try to pick favorites to see who lives and who dies, but don’t get too cocky. You might think you’ve seen every possibly dynamic in zombie films, but this show can really surprise you.
It works. I can’t quite point the difference, but it definitely both follows the zombie template and somehow subverts it. The almost obligatory comparison would be Train to Busan (2016), which is even mentioned at some point. To be fair, it’s not really the same dynamic. This feels a little like a local setting, as the school is for these kids their own private universe, now completely distorted and turned into a real life horror film. The level of detail of the zombie acting is fantastic and genuinely horrific.
Extremely recommended. You will get the usual social commentary mixed with the horror tone, done freshly and both paying its dues to the classic genre with a subversive tone. I’d rather write this now before watching the end of the series to avoid giving away anything in subtext. Definitely a candidate for binging from beginning to end. Worth a watch.
That will do for now.