Korean zombie thriller All Of Us Are Dead is like savage version of Happiness

·4-min read
Yoon Chan-young as Lee Cheong-san in All Of Us Are Dead. (Photo: Netflix)
Yoon Chan-young as Lee Cheong-san in All Of Us Are Dead. (Photo: Netflix)

The undead is once again taking over the world of K-drama with Netflix’s latest thriller All Of Us Are Dead, set in a high school that becomes ground zero for a zombie virus outbreak.

We caught the 12-episode series ahead of its release on Friday (28 January) and found the concept similar to another zombie drama Happiness, released last November. Here’s how:

1. Both illustrate the zombie apocalypse as a virus outbreak.

When Happiness described the zombie apocalypse as a virus outbreak, much like the coronavirus pandemic, it was refreshing and intriguing. The measures taken in the drama, like limiting movements and serving quarantine, were relatable too.

But when another drama — All Of Us Are Dead — comes out to do something similar, the idea inevitably feels less original. While the cause of the outbreak in Happiness stems from the side effects of a drug, the outbreak in All Of Us Are Dead comes from an experiment that has gone very wrong.

If Happiness is like a contained version of a pandemic, All of Us Are Dead is the chaotic and unrestrained pandemic. It does not take long till the virus spreads like wildfire and turns the school into a living hell, which may excite fans of horror and thrillers.

2. The zombies in All Of Us Are Dead are more aggressive.

The infected in Happiness uniquely toggles between being a human and a zombie, like an onset and subsiding of a fever. Like how fever can be treated, these “zombies” can recover from the infection too.

However, the infected in All Of Us Are Dead, like in the usual zombie thrillers, completely lose their humanity and violently attack any human beings. Blood gushing out and revolting wounds are featured regularly – it's not for the squeamish!

The virus is described as a parasite that fights to take over a human body, killing all of the body cells. Yet at the same time, this virus has the ability and potential to mutate, which complicates the story. The mutated strain even imbues the infected with some form of outrageous superpower that at some point feels ridiculous, possibly due to poor storytelling.

3. The military implements martial law in both dramas.

Martial law is an extreme last resort that allows the military to oversee the outbreak. With martial law in place, every military decision is final; there is no room for discussion. While the military plays a relatively more crucial role in Happiness, its inclusion in All Of Us Are Dead seems rather superficial.

It could have been better if they show how they aid the students in their escape from their deadly school. Instead, the military, who should be on top of everything, or should at least try to grasp the situation, looks just as confused and clueless as everyone else. They didn’t even know they should check the school (ground zero) for survivors until someone reminded them! God knows where they have been sending their rescue helicopters to, which seem to hover nowhere near the school.

Park Ji-hu as Nam On-jo in All Of Us Are Dead. (Photo: Netflix)
Park Ji-hu as Nam On-jo in All Of Us Are Dead. (Photo: Netflix)

4. All Of Us Are Dead is a monotonous survival game.

Although the story of Happiness is engaging and keeps the audience coming back for more, the story of All Of Us Are Dead is a far cry from that. In addition to the incompetency of the military, there isn’t a clear path for the survivors to take. They are essentially running from one room to another, fire-fighting the issues as they surface, with no final destination in mind.

Throughout all the incidents, they seem to gain no knowledge or skill on how to kill the zombies, showing minimal to no character development. Repetitively, you will see them gather in a room for a brief period of safety, until a trigger sends them frantically scrambling to a next location like headless chickens.

The lack of personalities in the group and the feeble attempts to include romance and issues like bullying, social inequality, blackmail and teenage pregnancy also do not help to progress or enhance the story. But if you simply enjoy gore and the thrill of swarming zombies, All Of Us Are Dead may be the show for you.

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