The drama is an adaptation of the webtoon of the same name by Ju Dong Geun.
In a quiet little town, where nothing usually happens, a strange virus appears, turning people into zombies. Its spread is increasing hour by hour. And as the population tries to deal with it, a group of young people, including Cheong San and On Jo , find themselves trapped in their school. Then follows a race to get out of here, while avoiding being contaminated.
I’ve been watching zombie films and series for years, and it’s been a good thing for 10 years (and The Walking Dead) the theme has been on the rise… unfortunately the more productions there are the more demanding we become!
This review is therefore written by a person who “likes” the genre, has watched a lot of films/series of the type, but above all who has not read the original manhwa! (precision which is important because the series is an adaptation and not knowing the original work there are certain scriptwriting points on which I would be critical, but which may come from the adaptation… as we all know , the manga->drama passage sometimes leaves traces ^^°°)
A KDrama on the theme of zombies, after the recent film Last train to Busanwho was pretty good in the genre, it makes you want to be tempted. My first reluctance was due to the original pitch: the story takes place in a high school and the main protagonists are therefore teenagers… The series being adapted from a manhwa, I said to myself that “maybe” the scenario was going avoid the clichés of series aimed at a teenage audience, so I started watching it with more curiosity than expectation.
- A hyper classic scenario but which stands out
Nothing new in this umpteenth zombie attack: a mad scientist, transmission of the virus by biting, a human/zombie transformation in 5 minutes, chases between hordes of zombies and survivors, characters contaminated in each episode.
The series narrates the survival attempt of 2 groups of high school students (who without much spoiler, you guessed it, will at some point meet to form only one) in the midst of a spread of viruses whose epicenter is their high school. Everything is done so that we quickly become attached to these high school students, wondering in each episode “which of them will survive or be bitten”. At the same time, we follow the evolution of the virus (which has never been confined to high school alone) and the measures put in place by the various organizations to manage this crisis. The scenes outside the high school will be punctuated by 3 adults having a major role in the main scenario, which is the survival of our group of high school students.
If so far the series has not shown any novelty, it nevertheless has the particularity of making its scenario one of its greatest assets: the youth of the protagonists!
All of us are Dead’ Characters
Let’s review the characters one by one. I’m focusing on the central and most interesting ones.
Apart from the fight for survival, Netflix’s ‘All of us are Dead’ was able to slide in a bit of rom-com in the series, so there are lot of lovey-dovies among the characters.
ChLEE CHEONG-SAN (played by Yoon Chan-young)
Cheong-san is your typical boy-next-door, and he’s friend-zoned by his childhood friend and classmate, On-Jo. He’s one of the skilled students–he’s fast and can climb through walls without any problem.
Cheong-san is the typical hero of an apocalypse ‘coz he’s always willing to risk his life and goes through the forefront. He’s the one that you’ll always root for in series such as this series because he’s close to being perfect.
NAM ON-JO (played by Park Ji-hu)
As one of the main characters, On-jo is the series’ damsel in distress. She’s not very skillful, but she survives because she’s saved by her knight and shining armor.
On-jo a central character that’s quite easy to hate, not only because of her not appreciating Cheong-san but also because she’s the most emotional one in the bunch. In order to survive an apocalypse, one should seek to stop all emotions, and On-jo doesn’t pass in that department.
LEE SU-HYEOK / BARE-SU (played by Park Solomon (Lomon))
Su-hyeok is one, if not the most skillful and strongest student in the school. Once a bully, this popular prince charming is now trying to protect the vulnerable ones. He’s the cool and swoon-worthy dude in the film. I mean, almost everyone who watched the series has a crush on him now.
CHOI NAM-RA (played by Cho Yi-hyun)
Nam-ra is one of the complex characters in the series, and she’s one of the most evolved ones, especially since the zombie apocalypse required it for her. She didn’t have friends ‘coz she was always on her own and intimidated her classmates. As one of the central characters, she’s also considered one of the more heroic students, as she is strong and has a sense of duty.
LEE NA-YEON (played by Lee You-mi)
Na-yeon is the self-centered character in the series. Like Nam-ra, she has no friends, but she’s very mean and did a sordid thing just to prove she was right. In the end, she almost got her redemption, if only it were a good stance. She’s one of the most hated characters in the series. It showed that she’s from a wealthy family, so you can say that she’s a selfish elite.
YOON GWI-NAM (played by Yoo In-soo)
Since the series dwelled more on Hyosan High School’s surviving students, one can say that Gwi-nam is the biggest villain in the series. Everyone who has seen it hated this psychopath and the fact that he was asymptomatic and even became stronger after being infected by the zombie virus.
Netflix’s ‘All of us are Dead’: Other Characters
Despite having 12 episodes, Netflix’s ‘All of us are Dead’ missed out on the opportunity to grow the many characters in the series. As I’ve said, most of them belong to the usual character tropes in high school dramas/series and on apocalyptic films. Some characters are capable of doing more, but the writers couldn’t utilize it, like the policeman and the science teacher, and even all of the main and supporting characters. Hence, I think that the series is also lacking when it comes to character development. The flashbacks were minimal and didn’t add to more of each character’s depth.
All of us are Dead’ Review
As I’ve said earlier, I didn’t expect too much from the series. It lacked a lot in storytelling, character development, and just on its overall message. Twelve episodes are enough, even if they’ve injected different situations and characters in the series. Some zombie apocalypse films have the same formula, but Netflix’s ‘All of us are Dead’ lacked more focus and depth.
The only redeeming factors of the series are its actors (gosh, they’re really good-looking and hot), and perhaps, luckily, the fact that it’s an apocalyptic film, so it would not be boring and the audience would want more. However, I can’t say that it’s one of the good zombie apocalypse films. Even if it had the chance to be better, it wasted its 12 hours and only gave its audience a lackluster story development.
All of us are Dead Commentary
As with every apocalyptic showcase, Netflix’s ‘All of us are Dead’ is not without its social commentary. The most obvious one tells about our world’s current pandemic situation and how it divides the people and turns many into selfish pricks. The series was even more transparent to the commentary, as to straightforwardly imply it as a fast-infecting and evolving virus, with asymptomatic cases, like that of covid-19’s.
Since I wasn’t impressed with the whole series, I cannot say more about it. It has the same formula as other zombie apocalypse films and series. The thing is, the whole story and characters were not developed well, despite its 12 episodes.
The series tried to imply a lot of important messages to its audience (like selfishness and death or sacrifice), but it failed because the audience already knew about those things. The makers weren’t able to differentiate themselves from other apocalyptic films and series. It also didn’t provide the viewers sufficient adrenaline rush.
If you’re into tearjerkers, and if you’re quite sensitive to heartwarming things, you’d cry over what the characters have lost, but in my opinion, it still wasn’t enough for the series to be labeled as a good one. Even the political commentary was dry and wasn’t pushed enough.
Indeed, what I feared was a flaw turned out to be my favorite thing about All of Us Are Dead . We are entitled to typical “teen” reflections sometimes leading to improbable situations which give a completely offbeat and very funny aspect to the story. I allow myself to put two examples in spoilers to support my point:
Spoiler: The mythical toilet episode!! After half a day of running around to survive, here are our high school students looking for a solution to relieve themselves, but without doing so in front of others. We have never been entitled in any other series to this type of scene. And for good reason, we are here facing the modesty of adolescence: it’s funny and very well transcribed.
Another anecdote is the “Humbies” debate, the pun that comes up regularly and the teenage humor that goes with it.
It’s this freshness that I liked in the script of All of Us Are Dead , and I think that’s what adds value to this series, which remains on very classic scriptwriting bases, but in blowing a breath of fresh air linked to the youth of its main characters.
Another appreciable point in the scenario of this series: the honesty and the frankness in the management of the crisis. We see the politicians taking advantage of this emergency situation to set up their “personal electoral campaign”, and the military powers making choices of “reason” while being aware that morally they are open to criticism. This transcription is very realistic and gives a lot of credit to the scenario.
- Scenario inconsistencies that weaken the overall rendering!
The fact remains that certain aspects of the scenario discredit the whole series, in particular the main character of Nam Ra . This character, looking like an antagonist of the other heroine On Jo , has real potential. She thinks differently from the others, gloomy and mature in her analyzes of the situation, she brings a dark and badass side to the high school girl who promises a very interesting character in this apocalyptic context. A promise that falls through, the evolution of Nam Ra could not be more disappointing but above all incomprehensible!
Spoiler: Why did she become a Humbie? What is quite explicit for the other two is absolutely not so for her. Likewise her character remains apathetic until the end when she is supposed to be extremely powerful and able to sneak between zombies, something absolutely not exploited. It’s a miss for me, maybe due to the manhwa->KDrama adaptation. In the end, she only takes on the role of watchman, and fades away as the story develops. While its role seems to be more and more central in this contagion. INCOMPREHENSIVE!
As unfortunately too often in this kind of series the main characters are “bland”. If the role of Nam Ra (which I mentioned earlier) is not part of it since only his evolution is incomprehensible to me, the characters of On Jo and Lee Su Hyeokare infuriating. They hardly evolve between the beginning and the end of the series, but above all manage to lose quality: which makes endearing characters, because loyal to their friends and very humanistic, becomes incredibly heavy during the last episodes because off topic in this context. It is all the more regrettable that the other protagonists come out of the game, without overdoing it, their characters and reactions are appreciable. (I had a real crush on the duo Jang Ha Ri and Park Mi Jin ).
Temporality is also poorly treated, as is often the case in this type of series. There are inconsistencies between real time and the setting up of events, for example.
Spoiler: between the decision-making and the moment when the army deploys thousands of drones, it probably took 2 hours….. they weren’t there, these drones…, it is unlikely that they were able to deploy this type of equipment so quickly
- Mainly convincing actors
A cast of actors for adult roles without fail! Good actors who play their characters perfectly.
But as for the high school students, with a lot of young actors, you might think that the series is not convincing in the interpretation of some of them. However, I did not notice any inconsistency in the acting of all the protagonists. And to my surprise. So some have roles that don’t change between the first and the last episode, leaving us little chance of seeing the quality of their acting (I’m thinking in particular of Park Ji Hu and Park Solomon who, from my point of view, have the least interesting roles in the series). But on the whole, they all played their characters very well.
I specify that I particularly appreciated Kim Jong Tae in his role of soldier who knew how to transcribe the internal conflict which animated his character between military duty and humanist morality.
- Careful production and assembly
The production as a whole is appreciable: filming on a real site with little or no scenes on a green screen (and if there are, they are very well done because they are not noticeable!), correct zombie makeup, dynamic editing episodes.
I liked the “zombie” transformations which are staged in the style of “the exorcist” rather than a gore film with explosions of blood and such (a good point for the sound effects of the cracking bones making these particularly unhealthy sequences).
Almost all episode endings end on a good cliffhanger, which gives value to this type of series.
All of Us Are Dead is recommended for fans of zombie/survival/disaster type series. In this category, she manages to stand out from the crowd with her humor and the freshness she brings to the genre thanks to these high school student protagonists. The acting of its actors allows us to watch it with pleasure. It will nevertheless remain a series that will be forgotten over the years.