It is almost impossible to find a fresh new take of the zombie film genre. We have seen slow zombies, fast zombies, smart zombies, and dumb ones. While the concept has been done in, a fresh cinematic portrayal could give the genre new life.
This is what #Alive almost does. #Alive is a new fresh intriguing perspective of the zombie universe…that only lasts for about 30 minutes before diving headfirst into clichés.
Our film begins with the uneventful life of Joon-woo (Yoo Ah-in). Joon is a full-time gamer who spends his days live-streaming his matches and sulking in his apartment. One day in the middle of a session, he notices that people around begin screaming for help and before he realizes it, he is witnessing the beginning of a zombie apocalypse happening live from the patio of his apartment.
Trapped with nowhere to go, Joon is left with nothing but his thoughts as the reality of the end of the world begins to take its toll. That is until he discovers that his neighbor from across the way is still alive and she too is in the same predicament that he is.
#Alive is a film that has a great 1st act but goes downhill the deeper into its runtime. The film introduces the angle of technology and online interaction into a tired genre. What would happen if a zombie apocalypse occurred right when you were in the middle of a round of Warzone? How could social media apps like Instagram and Twitter play a factor in the new normal that is the end of the world?
The film delivers a great introspective on a young man who quickly loses everything and has nothing to survive outside of his gadgets. The problem is that the film quickly forgets it’s own setup and jumps right into the classic zombie movie tropes. Joon finds a girl who he has a connection with as the only remaining survivor, what follows is an endless stream of tropes including zombies with supersonic hearing, pointless schemes to obtain items that will serve no use later in the film, the classic survivor who goes crazy because a family member is bit, and an ending too predictable for a Hallmark film.
#Alive succeeds when it is intimate. A story about loss, loneliness, and hope put the film on the right path before opting to enter into the comfort zones of mainstream audiences. Credit is due when looking at the working of cinematographer Son Won-ho whose claustrophobic framing and compositions make for great visual storytelling given most of the film takes place in a single apartment.
At the end of the day, #Alive takes a back seat to stronger South Korean zombie films such as Rampant and Peninsula. A good start squandered by a poor landing.