M.L. Miller here and welcome to my tenth anniversary Best in Horror Countdown! I have also compiled a list of horror films that worth noting to tack on to my Best of Countdown. Some of these films just barely missed the main Best of list and some are just films released through the year I thought stood out in one way or another. Do not forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. And please chime in down in the comments and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or you can counter with your own darn list! Enjoy this Best of Horror Extra!
Released September 5, 2020. New and exclusively streaming on Netflix!
Directed by Il Cho
Written by Il Cho, Matt Naylor
Starring Ah-In Yoo, Shin-Hye Park, Hyun-Wook Lee, Bae-soo Jeon, Hye-Won Oh, Jin So-Yeon
Find out more about this film here!
If there’s one thing I know, if it’s a South Korean horror film, it’s going to be good. And while #ALIVE treads on familiar territory, I found myself endeared to the story and rooting for the leads to survive more than I thought I would. Stay tuned after the opener to hear me slaughter foreign names like a champ!
Too many times, I feel like I’m the grumpy old man on his porch when it comes to technology. I get annoyed at TikToc and have barely expanded my social reach to Instagram. I can do the Twitters and Faceblogs pretty well, but I see cousins and friends’ kids with the tech knowledge they possess, and I let out my gravelliest of Clint Eastwood snarls. So when #ALIVE opens on Oh Joon-woo (played by Ah-In Yoo) playing video games, updating his Youtube channel, and surrounded by computer equipment, I felt I was going to be in for an inundation of social media addicted tweens cleverly avoiding the zombie apocalypse via their cell phones.
But I didn’t get that.
Basically, once a virus spreads quickly across South Korea, technology goes dark. At least for our protagonist Oh Joon-woo, that’s true. He happens to be living in an apartment where he can’t get a signal. So not only is he trapped alone in his home without his mother, father, and sister (who are all out when the shit goes down), but he is also unplugged. With only the gal in the apartment across the way Kim Yoo-bin (played by Shin-Hye Park) to communicate with, Oh Joon-woo struggles to survive long enough for a rescue promised on the television but has yet to come. Meanwhile, there are zombies with blood spurting out of their eyes eager to chomp down on and infect our hero.
Staying solitary is not a completely original option as it was the plot of the extremely effective THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD which was released back in 2018. I often said that if the zombies came a chompin’, I’d prefer to count on myself alone to survive and would get along for quite a long time if I never had to leave the apartment. This theory has been put to the test during the pandemic and turns out I’m still kickin’. Much like THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD, the protagonist doesn’t seem to be bothered by the solitude, at least until he begins to run out of food. It’s the chances that Oh Joon-woo takes to acquire food and supplies that make for some of the film’s most thrilling sequences. There are quite a few of these sequences littered about #ALIVE, so the pace moves along at a brisk rate from start to finish with director Il Cho tossing one twisted action/horror sequence at our hero after another every two or three minutes.
While a lot of the story feels familiar, especially with the TRAIN TO BUSAN series also taking place in South Korea, what I wasn’t prepared for was how much I empathized with the lead. Ah-In Yoo is one hell of an actor. Sure his bleached crewcut makes him look a lot like Eminem, but Ah-In Yoo does a fantastic job of conveying a myriad of emotions – from rage to deep sorrow to disappointment to sheer joy. This guy is a talented actor and I hope he gets bigger and better roles in the future because he basically carried the entire film. By the end of the film, I was entranced with his plight and rooting for him to escape these increasingly insurmountable odds.
Does he survive? I’m not tellin’ but #ALIVE proves to be an entertaining action horror mix that had me from start to finish. It helps that the zombie makeup is pretty amazing. Sure the zombie look is cliched, but #ALIVE’s zombies bleed out of their eyes and have nervous ticks and twitches that really make them seem distinct and unnerving. While the film does manage to send a message in the end to the zoomers that their connectivity is key to their survival, I didn’t mind the pro-social media message as it had a lot of gritty action, gnarly zombies, and intense tension to go along with it.
THE 2019-2020 EXTRA!
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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