Wow, #Alive, really? Not exactly the summit of creativity in the title department. Anything with “pound” or “hashtag” in the title sounds like a bad radio promo – “hit pound 87 on your phone when you hear the cue to call and win Drake tickets!”
Still, if you forgive the bit of silliness (after all, The Taking of Pelham 1, 2 3 is a stone-cold classic that’s abysmally titled too) there’s some gold to find in these here hills.
#Alive is set in Seoul, South Korea in a high density condo complex, tightly packed highrises with a common courtyard.
Oh Joon-woo is a Twitch streaming layabout whose life is not exactly brimming with possibilities or any kind of dynamism by the looks of it. With an unkempt bed and few priorities (or at least not the right ones) he’s a 20-something who’d probably benefit – nay, would definitely benefit- from Dr. Jordan Peterson’s stern, fatherly “clean your room” admonitions.
One day, Oh Joon-Woo wakes up in his messy, perpetually blinking digital screen-filled bedroom only to find there’s a zombie pandemic afoot (probably for a lot of gamers that he failed to take heed of anything happening outside isn’t a surprise: they can be online for 20 hours at a time oblivious to external cues).
With his parents absent, Oh Joon-Woo is left to his own devices – literally. He takes out his drone to suss out the situation, checks his media, watches TV for intel, and basically sits back helplessly as the pandemic unfolds.
Of course, his survival instincts eventually have to kick in. And he teams up with another survivor in the building, to hopefully double their chances of getting out…wait for it…#Alive.
He’s an unlikely hero, in the lazy everyman mold of the protagonist in Shaun of the Dead. You figure as a viewer, he doesn’t have the stomach or mettle for the task at hand like Ben did in Night of the Living Dead.
Still, Oh Joon-Woo (played by Yoo Ah-In) cuts a pretty charming figure and the cast is dynamite overall.
#Alive is a quiet, internalized zombie contagion flick, much more in line with Pontypool than say, Train to Busan. And that works in its favor and breathes a bit of life into the undead genre.
***1/2 (out of 5)