GORE IN THE STORE
Directed by Il Cho.
Starring Ah-In Yoo, Shin Hye-Park. Horror,
South Korea, 98 mins, certificate 15.
Streaming on Netflix
The Korean zombie boom continues and shows no signs of slowing down. To tide us over until the release of the eagerly awaited TRAIN TO BUSAN sequel PENINSULA, Netflix have snapped up #ALIVE. Recently released in South Korea, where they are lucky enough to have a system that actually works in tackling the Corona Virus therefore letting audiences get back to the cinema, the film seems to have struck a chord with an audience who once found unimagined situations such as mass pandemics and lockdowns as fictional constructs.
The tale of a video gamer finding themselves under siege from zombies in an apartment complex may already be familiar to readers of WORLD WAR Z with its Japan set chapter detailing the exact same situation. #ALIVE attempts to differentiate itself by including the use of social media and its ability to connect people from diverse backgrounds. When this method of communication disappears, as well as the wi-fi dropping out, it almost seems as bad a problem as the rage infected, flesh eating crowds of zombies swarming outside Oh Joon-woo’s front door. Struggling with the situation, Oh Joon-woo soon finds the need to get outside if he is to live, however he finds that he may not actually be the last survivor within the large apartment complex.
What follows is a diverting enough zombie movie that lacks the inventiveness and breakneck pacing of TRAIN TO BUSAN or the humorous self-aware edge that provided the more recent ZOMBIE FOR SALE with its own unique spin on the genre. #ALIVE ticks along nicely enough and provides enough excitement until its ending where it aims for an emotional and tense climax much like that of TRAIN TO BUSAN but it fails to stir the viewer in the way that earlier film achieved.
The performance of Oh Joon-woo is the films biggest asset. Portrayed by Ah-In Yoo, who with his bleached blonde hair is unrecognisable to viewers who may have caught him in last years excellent BURNING, he makes for a compelling hero who has to develop a survival skillset which leads him into a number of exciting, tense situations.
As familiar as the film may seem it has the distinction of perhaps becoming even more familiar with the upcoming release of the American ALONE, a near simultaneous remake that shares the films screenwriter Matt Naylor using the same script. From the trailer it may appear that the Korean version may have the edge in delivering a more distinct spin on its already familiar tropes. Who could have foreseen that the coronavirus epidemic would not only provide us with multiple outbreaks across the world but multiple takes on the same zombie outbreak also? Strange days.