Alive: Why This Korean Zombie Movie Is Number One On Netflix Worldwide

2 months ago

On September 8, 2020, Netflix released Cho Il-hyung's zombie horror movie, #Alive—two days later, according to The Himalayan Times, it reached the number one position for the streaming service worldwide. #Alive is the first Korean movie to achieve such a feat on one of the world's largest websites for both television and movie streaming. Il-hyung's film, as of this writing, is at number one in thirty-five countries, and continues to rise in popularity for its unique take on the zombie apocalypse.

The film follows Joon-woo (Yoo Ah-in), who is alone in his family's apartment shortly after discovering that the zombie apocalypse has begun as a result of an inexplicable airborne disease. For most of #Alive, the events take place in the apartment until he leaves with Kim Yoo-bin (Park Shin-hye), a fellow resident, in search of safety. #Alive takes notable influence from the late George A. Romero's movies, such as the confinement featured in Dawn Of The Dead as well as the characters's use of signs to communicate from across buildings. Likewise, there are various instances in the movie that give subtle nods to Romero as an apparent homage. Over the past several years, Korean zombie movies have dominated the sub-genre, as evidenced by the popularity of Train To Busan and its highly anticipated sequel, Train To Busan: Peninsula.

Cho Il-hyung's #Alive became one of the greatest horror movies in the sub-genre to come out of 2020 in a matter of days. While it achieved a high level of success in South Korea when it first premiered, its international fame will likely continue an upward trajectory due to its reception on Netflix's streaming platform. Despite the fact that zombie films have grown somewhat stale, #Alive reinvigorates the sub-genre with contemporary elements of the COVID-19 pandemic, its accessibility, and outstanding uniqueness.

#Alive Is The Ultimate Coronavirus Lockdown Movie

Alive is not the first film to take on the task of telling a story where characters are under lockdown. The Shudder original found footage film, Host, takes place during the COVID-19 pandemic as several friends join in on a Zoom meeting to participate in a seance. It was deemed the best horror movie of 2020 due to the fact that it seamlessly blended its paranormal activity with the current cultural climate. While #Alive does not take place in a COVID-19 world, its way of featuring a lockdown situation eerily resembles the beginning stages of the global pandemic that began in March of 2020.

As Joon-woo faces the fact that he is alone without internet, very little food, and a depleting water source, he debates whether or not leaving the safety of his home will be worth risking catching the zombie virus. Several texts from his dad tell Joon-woo to remain indoors and survive, no matter what. While he references these sentiments throughout the film's entirety, news stations also instruct viewers to stay indoors due to the inexplicable cause of the virus. According to the news, the virus could be airborne, but the infection can also spread through blood, a bite, or a stab wound. Regardless, everyone must remain confined to their homes without any knowledge of when it will be safe for them to leave. This is almost exactly what people were told to do once the Coronavirus began to spread. Because of this, #Alive accurately captures the same panic, fear, uncertainty, loneliness, and isolation experienced by many during the pandemic's early days.

#Alive Is Dubbed In 31 Languages

Typically, movies are dubbed in 15-17 different languages. In an astonishing feat, #Alive was dubbed in 31 languages, with subtitles in several others to make it accessible for a wider possible range of viewers. Because of this accessibility, #Alive is currently ranked as the number one film streaming in 35 countries. On Netflix's United States website, it includes English, Thai, Korean, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese language options for #Alive.

It can be assumed that Netflix offers different choices based on region. For instance, it's likely that Canada's Netflix offers French due to the heightened presence of the language, whereas the United States does not. However, it's possible to find #Alive in any of the 31 languages it is dubbed in across the internet. Hopefully, Netflix will expand its options for every region, given the broad range of languages spoken across the world. Regardless, its accessibility through the production company's—ZIP Cinema and Perspective Pictures—choice of having it dubbed in so many languages attributes to its popularity worldwide. Other films in different languages (including English) often fail to deliver the same for their audiences.

#Alive Is Getting Positive Reviews From Critics

As of this writing, #Alive sits with an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. When the film initially premiered in South Korea on June 24, 2020, it received generally positive reviews, and led the box office for three weekends in a row. It garnered so much success following its release that it prompted Netflix to acquire the rights to distribute the film globally. In fact, their desire to acquire the distribution rights to #Alive can likely be attributed to the fact that #Alive had the highest number of viewers of any film in South Korea since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only was it a success among horror fans, it also exceeded all expectations of a zombie film, considering the decline of the sub-genre's popularity over the past several years. Some critics have found that #Alive is bringing new life to the dying sub-genre with its unique depiction of the zombie apocalypse. It is rare that the events of a horror movie about reanimated corpses takes place in isolation. Often, zombie movies and TV shows are positioned in larger, metropolitan areas or other crowded locations with a large potential victim pool, like a packed train or shopping mall. By taking a concept unfamiliar to the sub-genre, #Alive transforms how zombie movies can be handled as well as providing an exploration of the different circumstances individuals find themselves when dealing with the apocalypse.

The success of #Alive may seem unexpected but, in all actuality, its initial release indicated that international fame could have been easily predicted. It includes contemporary cultural occurrences alongside horror's most iconic reanimated creatures while ensuring that a wide range of audiences can enjoy the movie safely at home.

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