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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that #Alive is a 2020 Korean horror movie in which a teen must fend for himself in isolation in a Seoul apartment during a zombie apocalypse. Of course, there's constant zombie movie violence: zombies attack humans by clawing, biting, and eating them. Humans fight back with guns, axes, and golf clubs as they chop off limbs and shoot zombies in the head. A character attempts suicide by hanging. The lead character hears his parents getting attacked by zombies through voicemail. Occasional profanity includes "f--k" a few times and "motherf----r." The teen raids his parents' liquor cabinet once it sinks in that he's going to be stuck inside his apartment for the foreseeable future. An adult smokes a cigarette.
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What's the story?
In #ALIVE, Oh Jun-u wakes up in his Seoul apartment bedroom with a note from his mother asking him to pick up some groceries while his parents are away. Instead, he settles in for a day of gaming with friends, but a glance at the news on television shows that the country is in a state of emergency. A fast-spreading disease is turning people into cannibalistic zombies. Oh steps onto his balcony and witnesses the bloody chaos below. After his now-zombie neighbor attacks him in the apartment, Oh barricades himself inside. He posts a video on social media to alert anyone who might be watching for help. As the days go on, Oh remains in isolation as his food supplies run low, and the utilities and internet connections become more and more infrequent. Oh becomes delirious and driven to the point of hopeless despair. On the brink of suicide, he sees a laser pointer beam. The beam is used as a way to communicate by a girl living in the apartment building across the street. Her name is Kim Yu-bin, and she sends him food, and they figure out a way to communicate that won't alert the zombie hordes to their presence. Now, Oh and Kim must find a way to meet on the 8th floor of Oh's apartment, where it's believed to be free of zombies, and try to learn if they have any chance of being rescued.
Is it any good?
This horror movie has obvious parallels to the struggles with isolation faced by so many during the COVID-19 quarantine. There will most certainly be an onslaught of movies of all genres in the near future that directly or indirectly address the myriad cataclysms of 2020. While #Alive is a good old-fashioned zombie movie with the requisite cadaver makeup, shredded clothing, shrieking and moaning, lurching, and cannibalism, it also reflects, comments on, and (at times) parodies what we've come to understand as the "new normal" during COVID. These comments place the movie squarely in the tradition of zombie movies like Night of the Living Dead, a movie that made some pointed comments about what was going on in the world in the late 1960s.
The story has its flaws. As in far too many horror movies, characters make questionable decisions that defy common sense, and that come across more like weak attempts at moving the story forward. But on the whole, the story moves in a way that effectively meets the challenge of telling a story that's centered on one character for most of it. The ending is cheesy, but if we're looking for entertainment as a temporary means of escape from what's going on in the world, now more than ever we need a "Hollywood ending" rather than the nihilistic endings of other zombie movies. It's as thoughtful as it is action-packed, and a worthy contribution to pandemic-themed cinema.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about zombie movies. How does #Alive compare to other zombie movies you've seen?
How does the movie use the zombie genre to comment on "life under quarantine" during the COVID-19 global pandemic?
Why do you think that there is a continuing popularity for zombie movies?
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