At first glance, you would be forgiven for interpreting #Alive, the latest Korean zombie flick to hit Netflix, to be the first Covid-19 film of its nature.
After all, you have a lone man trapped in his room like a quarantined patient. Lots of people rushing on the streets as if they were ‘hoarding’ stuff before an epidemic. And utter chaos as authority figures try to curb the panic that’s going on.
A film titled ‘#Alive’ that’s released in this time period? Can’t be that much of a coincidence, can it?
But well, it seems that it’s just that.
A mere coincidence.
Because the movie, as it turns out, is not so much of a pandemic disaster…
But more of a violent zombie nature, as Train To Busan portrayed so well eons ago.
10 Facts About #Alive, The Korean Zombie Movie in Netflix That Reminds You Of Covid-19
According to IMDb, the film’s synopsis is as follows:
“The rapid spread of an unknown infection has left an entire city in ungovernable chaos, but one survivor remains alive in isolation. It is his story.”
And according to Wikipedia, the film “revolves around a video game live streamer’s struggle for survival as he is forced to stay alone at his apartment in Seoul during a zombie apocalypse.”
Posted on 25 August 2020, the official trailer for the movie has since garnered over 1 million views on video-sharing site Youtube.
Netizens have also compared it to Train To Busan, with some noting the film’s significance in the year 2020.
In the film, Yoo Ah In of Burning and The Throne fame stars as Oh Joon-woo, a gamer who has to survive a zombie outbreak.
Meanwhile, Park Shin-hye, who has played in notable films such as Miracle Cell No. 7, stars as Kim Yoo-bin, a mysterious lady who not only helps Joon-woo survive but also proves lethal (zombie-lethal) with her hand-axe and booby-trapped door.
To end off, Lee Hyun-wook, Oh Hye-won, Jeon Bae-soo and Lee Chae-kyung round up the rest of the main cast.
Thus far, the movie has received rave reviews by critics, with a commendable 89% ‘freshness’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
However, it seems to have elicited mixed responses from the general audience, with 60% approving of the film on Rotten Tomatoes.
It also possesses a 6.2-star rating on IMDb.
According to Wikipedia, the film holds an approval rating of 7.09 from critic reviews on Korean review aggregator Naver Movie Database.
Meanwhile, AsiaOne has deemed the movie to be one with “a lot of promise” but ultimately failed to live up to it.
Screenrant and Cinema Escapist, on the other hand, praised the film for being one of the better zombie films in recent times.
It should be noted that most review sites have also noticed the similarities between the events in the film and the current Coronavirus situation.
5. Box Office
On its opening day (24 June 2020) in South Korea, #Alive attracted a total of 204,071 viewers and occupied 62% of the box office, marking the highest first-day viewership of any film since February 2020 (before the outbreak extended to South Korea).
It also holds the highest number of first-day admissions, next to The Man Standing Next.
On the fifth day of its release, the movie surpassed 1 million admissions and secured 1,001,802 viewers during the first weekend of its release. It became the first movie to pass the 1 million mark since February 2020.
The movie would go on to top the charts for its first three weekends, before clocking up a total of 1,901,099 admissions in its home country.
On 8 September 2020, the film was released on Netflix.
Just two days after its release, the movie achieved global first place on the streaming platform.
According to sources, it topped the Netflix daily chart in 35 countries, including the likes of the United States, France, Spain and Russia.
7. Is #Alive Related To Train To Busan?
Though the films share distinct similarities in certain aspects, such as how zombies are portrayed as more active and lethal than the conventional slow-moving kind, #Alive is not actually related to Train To Busan. There is no narrative connection between the films.
However, Train To Busan did spawn a sequel in the form of Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula, which was released in August.
Peninsula has yet to be released on Netflix.
Though the movie was released in 2020, it actually wrapped up production in 2019.
Principal photography for the film is stated to have commenced on 1 October 2019.
#Alive was filmed in Gunsan, and production was completed on 12 December 2019.
According to Wikipedia, #Alive is based on the original script ‘#Alone’ of Hollywood screenwriter Matt Naylor, who has worked on the American documentary series Small Business Revolution: Main Street and the short film What It’s Like.
Having read through the script, Director Cho Il-hyung (also known as IL CHO) and Naylor then adapted the screenplay for the Korean Market and created the #Alive that we know today.
10. A Positive Case For The Global Film Industry
According to Forbes, #Alive is one of the “first commercially successful theatrical movies released amid the pandemic”, and acts not only as a test case for the Korean film market but also for the global film industry.
To put it simply, it shows that even amidst the pandemic, box office runs are still a distinct possibility.
“We believe the successful opening of #Alive demonstrates that demand still exists for theatrical viewing despite the various COVID precautions in place at the theaters,” said Kay Na, president of Spackman Entertainment.
“It was a gamble for us to release #Alive in the current environment, but we didn’t want a finished product to go stale while we waited this out. Also, we felt that there was no guarantee that the situation would get any better if we waited longer to release.”
And it seems that they have also recognised the film’s parallels with reality right now.
“As a film that revolves about isolation, survival, longing to meet others, escape and freedom, it becomes natural for people to closely relate #Alive to the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Na.
So in a nutshell, releasing #Alive at such timing may not exactly be planned beforehand…
But it’s certainly an improvisation that has done well in the commercial market.
You can view the film on Netflix.