Is All of Us Are Dead the next Walking Dead? In truth, I have no idea as I’ve never actually sat down and watched the long-running zombie series, but there’s strong potential for All of Us Are Dead if the remaining season one episodes is just as character-driven and action-packed as the very first episode. What is the series about? It’s a South Korean coming-of-age story in the midst of a wild zombie apocalypse involving a bunch of teens. Coming-of-age story means eye-rolling teen drama such as love triangles, bullying, and all the television stuff that’s typically found when the focus is on adolescence. Believe it or not, the teenage drama isn’t as bad as it sounds and there are so many interesting stories and dynamics at play during the pilot. I will say this though, if you’re looking for a completely fresh and new take on the zombie genre then you’ll be highly disappointed.
To be fair, it’s extremely hard to reinvent the wheel when it comes to zombie movies or films. Can it be done? Of course, it can, and movies like Warm Bodies or the CW series iZombie managed to take a new approach to the specialty genre. Based on the pilot, All of Us Are Dead appears to be a mix of 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead. If you’re okay with nothing being particularly new about the zombie apocalypse, then you should be fine. Given the fact that the 12-episode arc has a surprisingly long run time then that may be the biggest detriment of All of Us Are Dead. The pilot was nearly 70-minutes long and the good news is that I never felt the show dragged throughout the entire episode. The focus is mostly on teenage drama, which is actually a necessary tool. Obviously, the purpose of a pilot is to introduce an interesting world with a compelling set of characters, so it’s crucial that we spend time with these men and women before they become a tasty zombie treat. Would it be nice to watch a bunch of teenagers who care less about love, sex (there’s no sex in the pilot, but you get my point), or drama? Yes, but a group of perfect teens who study and play the Nintendo Switch happily doesn’t exactly sound like a thrilling show. The opening is actually pretty strong. The show starts off with a bunch of kids bullying and beating the crap out of a student. That victim becomes a zombie, and then something insane happens that ends up with one of them going splat.
The rest of the series narrows it’s focus on a group of students and there’s a clear protagonist/antagonist line. The bullies are obviously the worse. At one point, a girl is forced to get naked for their amusement. Not every bully is grade-A douchebags, which helps balance the dynamic, but Yoon Gwi-Nam stands tall as a guy you desperately want to punch in the face. Then there’s the little love triangle. It’s not as bad as it doesn’t dominate the entire pilot, so it never feels like a forced trope that executives feel is necessary. The rest of the show highlight the core cast’s personality in an organic manner. However, All of Us Are Dead never forgets the appeal of the show, which it’s about zombies. Following the teaser, the zombie story gets a bit clearer and the origins of how it began is also showcased. More importantly, when the zombies start dominating the school then the action really pushes the show forward. There are several cool action sequences, with the most notably being a student attempting to commit suicide by jumping off of the building, but multiple victims and zombies break through the glass and jump out of windows. It’s a sweet visual. Another big sequence is the zombies invading the school cafeteria. It’s chaotic, bloody, and fast-paced, just the way a show featuring zombies should be. In terms of acting, everyone is pretty solid. You’re not going to get Oscar winning performances here, but All Of Us Are Dead isn’t some deeply rooted character piece that really allows these actors to truly test their skills as a performer. Everyone plays their part well and no one sticks-out like a sore thumb. To be clear, I watched the pilot with subtitles, so I’m not sure how the English dubbed version works. All-in-all, the pilot of All Of Us Are Dead is fun escapism that you can enjoy. It’s definitely not Emmy winning type material nor is it bold like Squid Game, at least based on the pilot episode alone. Give it a try if you love zombies, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the lack of originality prevents you from checking it out.