Homework, exams, bullies, unrequited love – the teenage pupils of Hyosan High School have a lot to contend with. Things couldn’t possibly any more stressful could they? Unfortunately, the stresses of student life are about to be added to big time when their high school becomes ground zero for the zombie apocalypse.
Based on the webtoon, Now At Our School, All of Us Are Dead opens with a group of bullies brutally beating up a fellow student. This brutality gives audiences a good idea of what is to come, not only in terms of gore and violence, but it also shows that the way that the students interact with each other is a key element of the show.
Zombies have long been a horror staple and it may feel that there is not much originality left in the genre. All of Us Are Dead does have certain formulaic elements – a person is bitten followed by rapid infection and then chaos as the infection spreads and the zombies run amok. However, these formulaic elements are hard to avoid in any zombie based show and thus can be forgiven. All of Us Are Dead does feel fresh and new and this is due to the great cast of characters and how they approach the completely insane situation that they find themselves in.
Very quickly the students realise that they are dealing with a zombie outbreak, there is even a throwaway reference to Train to Busan, and so immediately they club together to try and survive. This bypasses all the faff of them trying to work out what is going on and allows the audience to get straight to the action.
All of Us Are Dead has a great frenetic energy to it. The zombies are not only your fast moving, swarming mob type. They also have an otherworld quality to them and when they turn, they twist and jerk in the most unsettling and stomach-churning of ways. There are also a few surprises when people are bitten – these zombies do not always act how the audience might expect and that spells big trouble for the surviving students. With the students having little choice but to run, climb and fight their way through the zombie hordes, there is a brilliant physicality to All of Us Are Dead that makes it an exciting and fun watch.
Above all of that is the excellent young cast that take centre stage and provide so much heart to the show. All of Us Are Dead has all the perils of dealing with the zombie apocalypse along with all the perils of dealing with adolescence, and sometimes one is just as stressful as the other. Combining coming of age with zombies is a combination that works perfectly and makes All of Us Are Dead incredibly watchable and engaging. The audience roots for the ragtag group of students and cheers them on throughout and with plenty of twists and turns, All of Us Are Dead never stagnates throughout its twelve episode run. The show ends in a way in which a second season is definitely feasible and so audiences may yet see more from the pupils of Hyosan High School. All of Us Are Dead season two? Yes please.
Horror, Drama | South Korea, 2021 | 18 | 28th January 2022 | Season One | Netflix | Dir.Lee JQ, Chun Sung-il, Kim Nam-su | Yoon Chan-young, Park Ji-hoo, Cho Yi-hyun, Park Solomon, Yoo In-soo