Spoiler Warning: The below piece contains spoilers for the first season of All of Us Are Dead.
What would happen if we created a monster and then, unknowingly, nearly killed the rest of the world? That’s essentially the question at hand in Netflix’s All of Us Are Dead. After seeing his son be bullied for so long, Lee Byeong Chan decides to do something about it. However, while most parents would seek more traditional routes — talking to the principal or teaching the child to fight defensively — Byeong-cheol Kim‘s Chan takes things to a new extreme. He opts, instead, to create a new type of monster by injecting his son with a new virus he’s been working on. Little does he know, that very virus will nearly destroy Korea, all while killing the one person he so desperately tried to save.
It’s a horrifying concept that shows how far humans are willing to go in order to get what they want; essentially showcasing that families — namely children — are disposable. While the zombies are the focus of the series, it’s the humans that are truly the monsters of All of Us Are Dead. It is because of one man’s inability to be there for his son that a high school has become ground zero in a zombie attack. It is because of his choice that he has lost both his wife and son. More importantly, though, the choices throughout the series showcase how willing people are to kill those around them for the sake of safety.
We see this first among the students with bullying and sexual harassment/assault in the first couple of episodes. Then, as the outbreak continues to reach more of their fellow classmates, the students waste no time casually throw their classmates to the hordes in hopes of escaping. It becomes fight or flight and the strongest are the ones that’ll survive. Morality goes out the door the moment the undead take over. When it comes down to it, the staff seems to all but abandon the students in favor of surviving — with one or two exceptions along the way. Even the students soon find themselves warring, eager to stay alive and away from those that’ll do harm to them. In some instances, this may mean aiding another student in becoming a zombie, abandoning a friend for the sake of getting away or pretending not to hear cries for help in order to save yourself. There are plenty of screwed-up scenarios in All of Us Are Dead in which the humans are the true monsters, however, the worst comes closer to the midway point of the series.
After being trapped in the high school, unable to reach the outside world due to phones and internet being cut off, the students that have survived become desperate to find some sort of help. They’re tired of running from room to room, trying to barricade themselves from the dead. It only becomes harder when a new form of zombie is introduced — one that still retains its humanity. So, they take to the roof for safety, believing if they make an S.O.S sign, a helicopter will come save them. And it works, or at least, it seems like it’s working.
What the students don’t realize, however, is that the last student rescued by the soldiers — and the one who left them for dead — has just been attacked by one of the human-like zombies at the basecamp. This leads the people in charge to order a halt to the rescue mission. The safety that was so close within reach for the teens is immediately ripped from their grasps. They are left to die at the school as the helicopter flies off without them, despite promising to recuse them initially. It’s a screwed-up situation, one that is later made worse when the same people decide to bomb the high school after a short warning, barely allowing the kids to escape.
As terrifying as the zombies are in All of Us Are Dead, the series also shows how cruel humans can be as a whole. The zombies might’ve been created by one naïve and selfish man, but they ultimately helped to unveil the monsters in those still living.