All Of Us Are Dead Season 1 Review & Summary: A Survival Drama with Heart of a Human and Hunger of a Zombie

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Video Source – Netflix (Netflix YouTube Channel)

All Of Us Are Dead is a Korean Zombie Apocalypse Show, currently streaming on Netflix. It is based on the Naver webtoon, Now at Our School, by Joo Dong-geun, which was published between 2009 and 2011.

All Of Us Are Dead Season 1 Plot

Set in the South Korean city of Hyosan, things go berserk one day when a girl in the Hyosan High School is bitten by a rat infected by a deadly virus that turns happy humans into devastatingly ugly and ever-hungry human eating machines (zombies basically).

All Of Us Are Dead Season 1 Cast

  • Park Ji-hu as Nam On-jo
  • Yoon Chan-young as Lee Cheong-san
  • Cho Yi-hyun as Choi Nam-ra
  • Lomon as Lee Su-hyeok
  • Yoo In-soo as Yoon Gwi-nam

All Of Us Are Dead Season 1 Review

Zombies are the first love of filmmakers exploring the apocalypse horror genre and there’s little that can go wrong with a zombie movie. Some brain-eating hungry zombies, some scared guys running for their life, and a lot of biting and maiming makes up the perfect formula for a visually scaring and puke-inducing zombie thriller. With great fun, the zombie genre has also brought some largely mediocre stuff lately. One reason for the mediocrity is the lack of innovation in the genre due to it being done to dust by Hollywood.

Nevertheless, Netflix’s latest offering from South Korea is packaged with a little more than just the usual neck-biting and blood-gushing zombie violence. The South Korean zombie apocalypse horror streaming television series All of Us Are Dead is making some buzz for all the right reasons. With the raw violence and action, the Korean movies and series are known for, All of Us Are Dead is a beautiful and tough-to-witness exploration of the vulgarity hidden in the human character when the eventuality is a choice to be made between life and death (much like Squid Games). 

After the girl gets bitten, she is then kept in captivity in the school science lab by the science teacher who’s the mastermind behind the creation of this new zombie virus. On being discovered by the people at the school, the girl, almost on the verge of getting herself zombie-certified, decides to bite one of the people helping her while being taken to the hospital. And the cycle of biting goes on like that for some time until enough people are there to form a zombie self-help group. You get the idea. As the entire school and the whole city starts turning into a zombie-land, we are left with a bunch of school kids who must now survive this zombie outbreak. With the school as the main centre of attention, the focus shifts between multiple locations and characters across the city as they must now run ahead of some gut-hungry zombies to save their lives. (If you feel the description is too graphic, wait till you watch the series.) 

The setting of the school as the main playground for all the zombie-driven high adrenaline action to take place with some fun, characteristically unique, and a highly endearing bunch of school kids driving the course of action, provides for a colourful canvas to create an emotional and heart-breaking apocalypse horror drama. The school kids with their ingenuity and genuinely delightful innocence at moments add multiple colours to the otherwise red landscape of a gory and violent zombie drama.

In All of Us Are Dead, the school kids make up the perfect match for a truly vulnerable protagonist at the centre of a massacre. The talented and young cast brings greater conviction to the struggle that ensues. Each character is different and provides greater depth to the story. The conflict that emerges out of a group, consisting of young kids who may not agree with each other on everything, adds to the other conflicts that arise in a zombie outbreak. 

All Of Us Are Dead Season 1 Review

The Multitude of Conflicts in All Of Us Are Dead

Talking of conflicts, there are many through the course of this 12-episode long drama. The obvious one is the conflict between the humans and the undead. But what elevates the series in its stature in the zombie hall of fame is the multitude of conflicts it presents. Another is between the instinct to survive at all costs and the instinct to kill. The real cost of survival is written in red letters multiple times. The instinct to survive takes over often violently and often at the expense of another’s life. What follows is a total subjugation of human empathy. Throughout the tense drama which envelops the story, more binaries are presented.

When faced with a decision whether to go out to find a friend who’s possibly dead or stay inside and protect their own lives, the kids face a conflict between hope and logic. The hope of the friend being alive against the logic of protecting oneself fore mostly. Another important conflict is between the choices one is presented with when witnessing a loved one’s transformation into an unknown and deadly creature. To let go or to hold on is a choice the characters are forced to make more than once. The drama and the trauma connected with it are endless, but so is the crisis at hand. All of Us Are Dead in its most honest and heartfelt moments places the human character at the centre of dire situations where the innate humaneness of the characters is put to the test. A test, which at its best, raises vital questions about human helplessness.  

The Gore doesn’t Come Without Emotional Stakes

The series is not a mind-numbing trip through gory, bloody, and wildly graphic scenes of flesh-ripping action all the time. Yes, it has the fine elements of a great zombie horror but not at the expense of providing a devastating story of personal loss and death. Throughout its nearly hour-long episodes, the story raises above the basic premise of a zombie outbreak and indulges in the pursuit of various goals. The primary one is the constant social commentary it presents. Along with divulging the flaws of the human characters, All of Us Are Dead quite courageously showcases the inherent systemic flaws- social as well as political.

In the face of crisis, the system falls as quickly on its knees as the humans who built the system do. The choice of life and death is often left to a system built on rules and procedures. In a very cyclic manner, a virus, that takes birth to tackle a systemic problem like bullying, travels a full circle when all it leads to is the total exposure of the hollow pillars on which the system stands upon, in the promise of protecting those who are the most vulnerable. On the outset, in the garb of a violent zombie adventure, this South Korean series turns the eye of inquiry inwards. 

The little distraction in the otherwise engaging storyline appears when too much time and effort is invested in building arcs for characters who do not leave a significant impact on the storyline apart from serving an obvious purpose the characters were written for. The series does not suffer from a dearth of motivated characters. With the main bunch of school kids at the epicentre of the outbreak, the story travels a much larger distance across the city with many making their mark. The characters are interesting and remain somewhat important when they are on the screen, making it just more noticeable when they are easily removed from the scheme of things without a proper farewell by virtue of convenient writing.  

The Movie Culture Synopsis

The series in its most brilliant moments presents some talented actors portraying some genuine and devastated characters in the middle of an inhuman crisis. Combined with the graphic monstrosity of the zombie genre, this latest drama achieves more than what most zombie movies and television series do.

All of Us Are Dead smartly employs the setting of a zombie apocalypse to create a moving human tale of loss and grief layered with jealousy, romance, suffering, hostility, and waves of drama engineered around quick bursts of comic relief.

Author

  • Shreejit is an aspiring writer and a journalism student. He loves philosophizing books and cinema. Coming to movies, horror and tragic romances take the cake for him. Thrillers excite him too but nothing beats a tearjerker tragedy of Shakespearean proportions on a gloomy Monday night.