'#Alive' is your quarantine experience – with zombies

These days, even those considered the luckiest of the lot live a ho-hum kind of life, with days blending into one another in a sleep-work-eat-repeat pattern that mostly takes place at home.

We are living in unprecedented times – we just didn't know it would be this… monotonous.

Of course, if you throw zombies into the mix, any lockdown becomes way more exciting – which is where Netflix's latest zombie offering #Alive comes in.

It's been among the top films on the platform since it premiered on September 8, and if you haven't seen it yet, perhaps you should – especially if you're at the end of a tedious work week, and are looking for something to that's easy to watch, not too scary, not too cerebral, and surprisingly relatable.

At any other time, #Alive would have been just another zombie film – but it takes on a new meaning in a pandemic. It follows the story of a tech-savvy young man named Oh Jun-u (Yoo Ah-in), who finds himself alone in his family's apartment when a mysterious virus outbreak quickly turns everyone around him into zombies.

To protect himself, Jun-u isolates in his apartment, which, as many of us will know by experience, is not as easy as it sounds. In the beginning, Jun-u watches the news like a hawk and actively tries to survive and get in touch with the outside world.

But as the days roll on without an end to the outbreak in sight, Jun-u falls into despondence (and, more worryingly, runs out of food). If you've had at least one breakdown at some point in the pandemic, you might see yourself reflected in the screen in these scenes.

And that's the thing about this movie. As a zombie film, #Alive has its fair share of action-packed sequences – but at its core, it depicts the universal experience of being on lockdown as a deadly virus rages on in the outside world.

There's a familiarity there that you wouldn't expect to find in just another zombie movie.

It isn't just the physical isolation that the film portrays, but the social isolation – and the toll that can take on one's sanity. It brings to life the sudden distrust we've grown to have of strangers and even neighbors. For instance, at the beginning of the film, just after the outbreak starts, Jun-u lets one of his neighbors into his apartment – only to realize that the neighbor had been infected and was, therefore, dangerous.

The movie also brings to life what friendships have become in this pandemic – more meaningful somehow, as they unfold over a distance. In the movie, Jun-u befriends Kim Yu-bin (Park Shin-hye), a survivalist isolating in the building across his. She sends him food much like real-life friends do for each other these days – except instead of Grab or Lalamove, their ayuda exchange happens with a piece of rope and a bucket that they haul from one apartment to another.

Of course, the two survivors do more than just pass food and goods on to each other until it all ends. It is, after all, a thriller – and it ends in a whirlwind scene that might leave you breathless or disappointed depending on your tolerance for action.

Ultimately, while #Alive unfolds in a zombie-wracked Korea, and while the film itself has the odd annoying plothole here and there and some predictable twists, it's worth a watch, if only because it leaves viewers with a sense that this tedious lockdown is worth living through and that our own quarantine stories are worth telling – even if there are no zombies.

#Alive is now streaming on Netflix. – Rappler.com

Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.

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