When it comes to zombie shows, The Walking Dead has clearly dominated the small screen for the past twelve years. Even now, as it readies for its final season, the series has launched multiple spinoffs and will soon have a series of films to go along with it. Yet, as the zombie genre appears to be dying, Netflix’s All of Us Are Dead looks ready to change the conversation.
All of Us Are Dead is a series that focuses on a high school in Hyosan, Korea, Hyosan High School. After a mysterious virus is unleashed on the High School, the students — and the staff — must fight for survival. It’s easy to write a zombie story. It’s hard, however, to write one that manages to be exciting and retain a sense of humanity along the way. Netflix’s All of Us Are Dead proves there are still risks to be taken with the zombie genre. This isn’t merely a series of teens fighting the undead, it’s a series that ultimately focuses on the struggles of high school and growing up set against the backdrop of zombies. It tackles some of the most uncomfortable topics and doesn’t try to make viewers feel empathy for the terrible characters that inhabit the series.
The series begins with an unsettling occurrence between a few students on a rainy night. What takes place between the students will kick off a series of events that’ll change the world forever. It’s a strong way to kickstart the series, one that will leave viewers curious as to where it is going and how it’ll become the zombie-infested series the trailer promises. The series isn’t looking to hold viewers’ hands going into the chaos. The ugly truths of the world – bullying, parental abuse, sexual harassment/assault and depression – are all tackled hands-on; there is no sugarcoating any of it. This is what kids of the world endure, so All of Us Are Dead isn’t going to make it easier to watch – what these kids go through before the outbreak becomes vital to who they become when the world falls to the dead.
One of the most impressive bits of All of Us Are Dead is that it manages to balance a rather large ensemble cast successfully. Not only does the series have to establish this world for viewers, but it also needs to develop these characters for viewers. The fact that it manages to craft such rich stories for each character is fascinating. Yi-Hyun Cho as Nam-ra, Park Solomon as Lee Soo-hyuk, Ji-hu Park as On-jo and Chan-Young Yoon as Chung-san have some of the best character development. Among the impressive young cast, the four actors stand out, delivering some of the strongest performances within the series — especially Cho, whose Nam-ra becomes a favorite as the show progresses.
One of the minor setbacks for All of Us Are Dead is that each episode ends on a massive cliffhanger. If you’re looking for a show to slow binge, perhaps this isn’t the series for you. If you’re looking for a title to devour over the weekend, however, All of Us Are Dead is ripe for the picking. It’s well-crafted, with each episode immediately leading into the other, ensuring the story remains tight and avoids having to craft filler stories between. This allows the writers to tell what is essentially a twelve-hour film of the human’s desire to survive at all costs. There are sacrifices, there are brutal deaths and there are careless mistakes, all of which will elicit strong reactions from viewers. It’s just entertaining television that’ll entrance its viewers with ease.
Overall, All of Us Are Dead is a breath of fresh life in the zombie genre. It’s beautifully shot and features a stellar ensemble cast and a fantastic new take on zombies. It’s dark, it’s screwed-up, but it’s also a realistic approach to a fictional subject. For viewers looking for something new to binge, give this exciting zombie series a go. By the end, they’ll be desperate for a second season.