Horror Movie Review: #Alive (2020)

#Alive is a 2020 South Korean zombie film directed by Cho Il-hyung. Starring Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye. It was released in South Korea on June 24, 2020, and globally via Netflix on September 8, 2020.

Joon-woo, who lives with his parents and sister in an apartment complex, spends his days video game live streaming. While his family is out, the news reports that a mysterious rapidly-spreading disease is causing its victims to attack and eat uninfected people, and the government has lost control. From his balcony, Joon-woo sees his neighbours fleeing or attacking one another. He goes to check the hallway, but a neighbour barges in and succumbs to infection. Joon-woo barely manages to push him out and lock the door. He then receives messages from his parents telling him that they are safe.

Joon-woo barricades himself inside and posts a rescue request on social media. No help comes. Within days, the neighbourhood is overrun with infected. Though the emergency power stays on, Joon-woo gradually loses access to running water, internet service, and phone networks. He watches a policewoman attempt to escape the complex, but she is overwhelmed and infected. An infected man breaks into his apartment, but Jun-Woo manages to bait it into falling off his balcony. When his food and water runs low, he begins drinking from his father’s liquor cabinet. As he hallucinates about his family, his phone network is restored momentarily, and he receives a voicemail from his family recording their last moments.

Driven by grief, he prepares to hang himself, but stops when he is flashed by a laser pointer’s beam from Yoo-bin, another survivor living in the apartment opposite of his balcony. They begin signalling to each other daily. Seeing that Joon-woo is hungry, Yoo-bin connects their apartments with a homemade zip line and sends him food. An infected man manipulates the zip line, causing Yoo-bin’s table to fly and knock her out. The infected man climbs up the string to her apartment, but Joon-woo distracts it with his flying drone long enough for Yoo-bin to wake up and kill it.

Can he do as his family requested and survive? Watch and find out.

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To start off with I’m just going to say this review mentions the ending, not exactly what happens but whether the outcome is positive or negative so be aware of that.

We’ll start at the end and I have to say, I didn’t like the ending. I understand what the movie was going for, “#Alive” etc but it was just too heart-warming to be a horror. The film has an abundance of other heart-warming moments so the ending just feels like overkill. I was hoping it was some kind of vision and the true ending would be much more bleak but alas.

Fortunately, everyone does act well. You do feel their connection and want them to survive but ultimately because of the positive ending the film loses it rewatchability. How can you buy into any of the movie’s threats when you know it turns out okay.

The zombies are certainly terrifying and look great but they’re definitely made to look weak at certain moments. Additionally, their extremely accurate sonar power was weird. After one gunshot they were able to locate the exact apartment on the 8th floor where it came from, that’s not how sound or hearing works.

Moments with the drone were interesting and clever, and I enjoyed the lack of headphone jack joke, it included enough modernity to make it stand out.

Lastly, there are several scenes where the characters are concerned about starvation or dehydration but ultimately the apocalypse didn’t last that long. Both of our protagonists looked the same from beginning to end, it wasn’t very realistic.

Overall, #Alive is a heart-warming tale, too heart-warming for horror. If you want to watch a film where all the people you care about escape unscathed then this is the zombie movie for you.


  • Sally Powell

    Editor/Writer - Stay at home mum educating the horror minds of tomorrow. If it's got vampires or Nicolas Cage in it, I'm sold. Found cleaning bums or kicking ass in an RPG. (And occasionally here reviewing all things horror and gaming related!)

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