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All Of Us Are Dead review: Everything the Hallyu wave brings in is gold, including zombies

Isme action hai, romance hai, emotion hai, comedy hai… It’s a Gochujang masala show on Netflix.

January 29, 2022 / 03:53 PM IST
Students are stuck at school when a zombie virus goes out of control rather rapidly, and they have to find really cool ways to survive. (Image: Netflix/screen grab)

Students are stuck at school when a zombie virus goes out of control rather rapidly, and they have to find really cool ways to survive. (Image: Netflix/screen grab)

I was lamenting missing out on a Marathi Zombie comedy that released this week called Zombivili. I shed tears for having missed Zombie Reddy too. So I've been waiting for this Netflix zombie series that sounds like the Japanese manga series High School of the Dead (Gakuen Mokushiroku Haisukūru obu za Deddo), 2010, which was awesome too. Almost bought myself a golf club then wondered if being a hippie was better (have you not seen Daybreak on Netflix yet? It’s the coolest zombie series where a lad is looking for his lost love)...

From Dawn of the Dead to Zombieland to Go Goa Gone, I could write you a listicle on zombie movies. If there are already so many great zombie films and series, why should we watch this next one?

All Of Us Are Dead or Jigeum Woori Hakkeoneun is based on the webcomic of the same name. It has 12 episodes, and each is better than the previous one. Forget about lying to your friends that you have seen the whole thing and think it’s meh because it’s just another zombie series. I will tell you that the zombies are only a fun (and yes, bloody) part of this brilliant drama. There’s friendship, there’s romance, there’s moral high drama, there’s angst, there are kids who deserve to be eaten alive by zombies and mums who will embarrass their sons and yes, scatalogical humour too.

You grin at the most logical questions high school kids can come up with: When a student insults another by describing how the lad stinks, a smart aleck asks, ‘How do you know what rotting corpses smell like?’

A very realistic dad tells his daughter: ‘Eat up and don’t worry about exams. You’re not going to get good grades anyway.’ But the dad is a firefighter and…Oh no. Watch the awesome Jeon Bae-Su perform as brilliantly as he usually does. You’ve seen him in The Guest, Stranger, Witch At Court, The King, Haechi and more.

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Take the mouse. A cat finds it, but won’t eat it immediately because it isn't hungry. It will play with the mouse and then, when the mouse is practically exhausted of the torture, then the cat will eat it. Now look at this scene from the point of view of the usually timid mouse. What if it decides that enough is enough, I will not give up without a fight? And then fights back? The cat isn’t expecting that fight at all. The little mouse, now that he has chosen the ‘fight’ option from the ‘fight or flight’ modes available to him, has to fight for his life. The cat, taken aback, is now backing away from the mouse. Tipping point crossed, the mouse now fights like a hero that wants to be…

Wait, what? Yes. Imagine a quiet science teacher (Kim Byung-Chul, whom you saw in Sky Castle, Sisyphus and Descendants of the Sun) whose son is bullied, feels let down by this world, decides to figure out how to get his son to fight back and accidentally creates a virus…

So students get stuck in school when the virus goes out of control rather rapidly, and they have to find really cool ways to survive. Whether it’s with the help of the archery team or by using doors and windows to push the zombies away…

In the Japanese High School Of The Dead, it’s the school nurse who can help the students survive a zombie apocalypse. Here, it is the English teacher. Oh how I loved that! After all, many of us have been saved from horrendous school years by angels who were English teachers. I still have a letter sent to me by that teacher…

Of course you cannot forget that this series has been made in an age of social media. So when an ‘influencer’ (with his camera on the selfie stick) breaks rules and gets through the police lines protecting everyone from the outbreak, I was happy to see him terrified and the comments scrolling up: ‘You actually went there? LOL’

I loved the way the series handles school students facing everything from nasty bullying to questions about life itself. What if you and your friend are hiding from the zombies, quietly in the restroom, and your friend begins to turn into a zombie, would you kill her? Would you let her eat you, because she cannot help herself? The model-turned-actor Lee Yoo-Mi, who everyone loved in Squid Game, makes an impression in this series as well. In India, where the difference between the haves and the have nots is so obvious, the role she plays would be natural. So when she behaves like Mohnish Behl in Maine Pyar Kiya or Ashutosh Rana in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, you are taken aback. But she’s so good, you want to beat her up.

The plucky students themselves are good actors, too. Whether they’re turning into zombies or turning the dining hall literally into a dine-on-one-another hall (and bad kids will find really nasty ways to be bad). Kudos to the zombies who crawled in the hallways really fast, and the one who did some extreme yoga on the MRI machine. These deserve a special category of awards. The police car that comes at a breakneck speed and climbs on to a parked car is a stunt that’s jaw-dropping because of the girl who barely makes it…

So many wonderful things about this series, and I hope Season 2 will be made as well. But wait, the name of the show is All Of Us Are Dead. Who will make Season 2?



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Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.
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