‘We’re All Dead’ Review: Netflix’s Korean Zombie Drama Wows

SPOILER ALERT:This review includes some spoilers for Netflix’s “All of Us Are Dead,” which premiered on Friday, January 28.

As the last desperate teenage survivors of ‘We’re All Dead’ do their best to stay alive through a zombie apocalypse, hoping beyond hope that adults will come to save them, it takes a day full of horrors. to make them realize they’re all alone. With their high school labeled Ground Zero for the escalating outbreak, the students are left for dead (or, as is the case with zombies, something in between). Their ensuing all-out battle for survival is the meat of “We’re All Dead,” Netflix’s elaborate new adaptation of the popular webtoon, in ways that are both mundane and epic. With the high school survivors stuck inside their school for most of the season, writer Chun Sun-il and director Lee JQ must continue to find inventive ways to make each class and confrontation a new challenge. terrible – and they do. Like “Squid Game” before it – the only comparison I’ll make between this show and Netflix’s recent Korean hit, I promise – “All of Us Are Dead”, makes the most of its otherworldly nightmarish central location. , vertiginous effect.

With 12 episodes of at least an hour each, “All of Us Are Dead” divides its time between the nightmare that unfolds at school and the one that engulfs the world beyond. At Ground Zero, best friends On-jo (Park Ji-hu) and Cheong-san (Yoon Chan-young) emerge from their initial crush of zombie mayhem in a classroom where others like class president Nam-ra (Cho Yi-Hyun), mean girl Na-yeon (Lee You-mi), and Su-hyeok (Lomon), On-jo’s crush, are safe. Elsewhere, star archer Ha-ri (Ha Seung-ri) and nicotine-addicted Mi-jin (Lee Eun-saem) hide in a bathroom, while unrepentant bully Gwi-nam (Yoo In-soo) ensures that he will finish on top, no matter the cost. To say the least: it’s a sprawling cast, and with the addition of several adult factions off campus struggling to keep the outbreak under control, the episodes are dense and last longer than necessary. But the school’s storylines really work, thanks in large part to the continued ingenuity of props and sets and the charismatic young cast, with Yoon Chan-young and Cho Yi-Hyun as notable stars.

The show’s weakness, then, lies beyond the Labyrinth School itself as it tries to view the epidemic from the outside in. , isn’t that so interesting after seeing so many other TV shows and movies doing the same. If the drama is going to continue beyond this season, it’s probably advisable to dig into the “why” and “how” of this zombie-infused reality. But few scenes involving adult characters are particularly compelling or different from what we’ve seen before in the zombie genre, whether it’s a helpless coven member (Bae Hae-sun), a detective (Lee Kyu-hyung) or even the wretched scientist (Kim Byung-chul) who accidentally started it all.

What this particular zombie series can offer instead is that core group of teenagers who run into danger, mourn constant deaths, find out how the virus evolves, and fight their way to safety through familiar hallways. of their school with one ingenious scheme after another. Sequences like Cheong-san and Gwi-nam facing each other atop the library stacks, a tense mission on tiptoe down a hallway, and a mad dash through the auditorium to safety are staged so impressive to bring together the extraordinary and the ordinary. effect. And when the teenagers have a moment to breathe between all the bloody panic, the show lets them still be teenagers. They continue to harbor crushes and grudges, always seek acceptance and intimacy, always find darkness and hope in the least likely places.

Most of them could be dead. But while some of them are alive, it’s undeniably moving to see them fully embrace the experience of being human despite all that prevents them from doing just that.

“All of Us Are Dead” is now available to stream on Netflix.