All Of Us Are Dead: A Review


Photo: Dean of Geek | Netflix


Mere months after the release of Squid Game, Netflix has another K-drama topping global charts and leaving fans desperate for more. This time, it’s the fast paced and highly riveting zombie series All of Us Are Dead, based on the popular digital comic “Now at Our School.” This puts a fresh spin on the typical zombie apocalypse plot, following a group of students who are trapped at their high school during the onset of the outbreak. 


All of Us are Dead dives right into the gravity of the situation. It opens with the first person to be turned into a zombie: the son of the man who created the virus in a desperate attempt to help his son, a victim of intense bullying which went ignored by the school administration. 


A brilliant scientist, the man takes a strand of DNA from a rat, whose adrenaline kicks in when cornered by a predator. This adrenaline gives the rat the ability to attack its predator and cause great harm. The scientist injects this strand into his son, but to his horror, it triggers something worse, causing him to transform into a bloodthirsty zombie.


It then jumps some time later to students in Hyosan, South Korea heading off to school, ready for a new day. There, a lab rat that has been injected with the virus by the scientist, who is coincidentally a teacher at the school, bites a student. She quickly turns and infects the school nurse, before being taken away to the hospital and causing a mass outbreak there.


The nurse follows the same pattern of turning as the previous girl. In a horrifying series, she has a bloody nose, reddening eyes, and body contortions, before attacking several students. The school soon turns into a feeding ground for zombies as students fight for their lives.


Unfortunately for them, as the situation worsens, law enforcement decides to abandon the citizens of Hyosan, afraid of further infection. Those who have survived come together as a group. This group consists of vastly different individuals: the class president, popular athlete, school jokester, devoted member of the archery team, and a nicotine-addicted senior, just to name a few. 


They take advantage of the resources available to them and come up with incredibly innovative ideas and escape routes. From the beginning to the end, All of Us Are Dead keeps viewer attention with the gory violence and action that Korean films and series are known for. The humor, despite the seriousness of the plot, was also one the highlights of the show. 


Besides the entertainment factor of All of Us Are Dead, what was most striking were the underlying themes. It shed light on bullying and suicide, two issues that are unfortunately very prevalent in South Korean society. According to government statistics, suicide is a leading cause of death among 10 to 19 year olds in South Korea. This is attributed to the proliferation of bullying and a fiercely competitive academic environment. As a nation, South Korea has the second highest suicide rate in the world. 


One of the most sickening cases of South Korean bullying occurred in 2012 when a 13 year old boy jumped out of his home’s seventh story window. In the note he left behind, he described being beaten, burned with lighters, and having electrical wire tied around his neck by the boys in his class. Through the show, we see how this same issue is just as rampant as the virus itself.


Additionally, what further elevates the show is the theme of survival and how instinct can take over all rational thought. When faced with the choice of staying put or risking your life to go out and find a friend who has possibly turned, the students face a conflict of self preservation or loyalty. When one of your friends, someone who you have known all your life, has been bitten, how do you throw them out to the zombies? 


Letting go or holding on is a tough choice the characters have to make repeatedly. The trauma is endless and leaves the viewer considering if reaching safety is truly worth it, if you have lost all your loved ones through the process. All of Us Are Dead puts the innate humanity of the characters to the ultimate test.


At the end of the show, we see the surviving students of Hyosan reaching safety as their city is burned to the ground by the military. One of the most beloved characters is killed during the bombing, while another sacrifices himself for his sister. We are also left on an abrupt cliffhanger when we see the students shocked at something shown off camera in the final scene. 


The director, Lee Jae-Kyoo, has expressed his hopes for a second season. He shared in an interview: “Many directions, settings and scenes were intentionally produced to expand the story into an additional season, including the introduction of the new races of zombies,” referring to the “half zombies” that emerged as a variant of the virus.


However, no official word has been released by Netflix concerning a second season of the show, but the prospect is hopeful, due to its international success. For now, fans will have to wait and see if the students of Hyosan High School will have their story continued.