From Gamer to Survivor: A High Five Review of “Alive”

by Matthew Escosia
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By: Alec Concejero


#Alive (Korean: #살아있다 or #Saraitda) is a 2020 South Korean zombie film directed by Cho Il-Hyung.[2] Starring Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-Hye, it is based on the 2019 script Alone by Matt Naylor, who co-adapted his script with Cho.

The film revolves around a video game live streamer’s struggle for survival as he is forced to stay alone at his apartment in Seoul during a zombie apocalypse. It was released in South Korea last June and was recently picked up by Netflix for international distribution.

Here is SEA Wave’s High Five review on the latest hit Zombie movie, #Alive.


A Zombie Movie For Our Times

#Alive is a perfect zombie movie fitting for our current times. With no food, no weapons, and minimal practical skills: a loner gamer is forced to learn how to survive against undead and killer opponents that he can’t kill with a joystick. Joon-wo, the protagonist of #Alive, camps out in his apartment and tries to wait things out. This can only work for so long — the single-minded attackers are undead and have all the time in the world.


A Nail-Biting Experience

SEA Wave Alive Netflix Movie

Director Cho keeps the pace upright and never gets his foot off the gas with this unusual zombie thriller – there are no backstories, and no unnecessary dialogue, it feels like a constant climax of expositions, events, and unfoldings.

This new age zombie movie takes a different route from the usual scavenging of supplies, constant migration, and battling of mindless former humans, rather it angles the story around staying put and simply mustering the will to survive. This movie showcases what it would most likely be trying to storm out a zombie apocalypse in this day and age and proves that people would not be rushing out to the streets and try to “run away” from said apocalypse. Here, days trickle by in an apartment as Joon-wo and viewers can’t help but feel a sense of empathy for how real the feeling of being cooped up and stuck at home is, because we all are due to the pandemic, not quite a zombie apocalypse but the whole movie hits home.

Emotionally Relevant

SEA Wave Alive Netflix Movie

Hopelessness slaps our protagonist at every turn he takes and for most of us, that too is what we feel being locked away from the outside world. One of the newscasters in the flick even states: “Citizens must stay home and avoid going out” which sounds exactly like something one would hear today. #Alive is a suspenseful narrative that millennials can easily relate to.


The attention to detail

SEA Wave Alive Netflix Movie

Not only does the story and build-up make this movie an entertaining watch but also the absurd amount of detail put into the set: a scroll hanging in Joon-woo’s apartment says an ironic pronouncement of “peace, health, and tranquility.” The film also provides peeks into attentively designed online worlds—for instance with Joon-woo’s massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and also through screenshots of Instagram-like image posts superimposed atop footage of Seoul.

However, the story does build up relatively slowly. Despite the story’s constant escalation of suspense, there are lulls in the activity but this isn’t because of the exposition is boring but rather, the director wanted viewers to feel that the lead, Joon-wo, was stuck at home, but this backfires for some viewers such as Filipinos because we are still stuck in our homes as well and don’t need a constant reminder of our situation. On the other hand, this helps build a bridge between the audience and the main character as viewers can’t help but sigh and think: “I feel you man, being stuck at home sucks”.



#Alive’s fresh take on cannibalistic and brain-hungry former-humans makes for a needed watch during the era of masks, staying at home, and ironically, Netflix binges. You can stream the film on Netflix. If ever the Coronavirus does evolve into something more sinister, I think we can all learn a thing or two from this movie: make sure we have a stable internet connection to post our locations with a hashtag and as the Bee Gees always said: to stay alive.

Overall the movie ranks a high 4.5 Waves and shows a lot of promising ideas. There may be even room for a potential sequel if the directors see that in #Alive’s future.


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