The really fantastic thing about this film, is that unlike it's zombie-filled predecessors, this isn't a movie about brave heroes, with smarts, athletic ability and a real knack for headshots. This is a film that's kind of about the everyman (or woman) in the apocalypse. The person who opted to play video games, instead of listen to their mother's advice to buy groceries. Those of us who might be too frightened to leave home in the instance of an outbreak, and who need the strength of others to help us through it.
As you've likely discerned, our protagonist is Oh Joon-woo, a young man who is home alone, in his Seoul apartment, with an unfortunate lack of groceries, during a zombie apocalypse. Although Joon-woo does think far enough ahead to ration the food that he does have, he also makes countless mistakes throughout this dramatic horror. Mistakes which, if given the opportunity, many of us may also make. Joon-woo acknowledges some of these faults, laments them even. One such instance can be seen in the line, "Oh, Mum. I should have listened and bought more groceries".
Joon-woo lets us down though: when he stands on the balcony and watches the chaos for an unnecessarily long period of time, before he fully grasps whether or not it's safe; when he allows a stranger from down the hall into his apartment AND THEN allows them to use his bathroom, which locks from the inside; when he uses a putter, of all things, to attack zombies (did you have nothing else in your house Joon-woo?); and when he uses his fridge to barricade the front door. Surely there was a more useless piece of furniture that you could have used, Joon-woo? One that doesn't require electricity to function and cool the little food that you do have? I sound like I'm attacking this film (and Joon-woo), but I'm really not. I think it's a breath of fresh air to watch a zombie horror in which the main character is more representative of the majority.
Joon-woo does manage to last a fair while in this apocalypse. Initially he is hopeful; posting his location on social media with the phrase #imustsurvive. With each passing day though, Joon-woo's resources steadily deplete, and so does his hope. He eats all of the food, he loses access to water, and his phone service is cut off. Joon-woo becomes ever more isolated and desperate for help. It gets to a point where he becomes very cognisant of his own mortality and realises that he can basically choose whether he wants his life to end with a zombie, starvation, dehydration or by his own hand. But hope lives in his connection with another! Joon-woo realises that there is a woman who is alive, in a neighbouring apartment, and the pair begin to quietly communicate, reviving their hopes to survive.
That's the basic premise of the plot, but let's talk about zombies for a minute. The concept of the zombie has been around for centuries. It's not a concept that's unfamiliar to people. When I think about pop culture, and I think about some of the movies and television programs, and books, and songs that exist within my house, I can name a number that contain zombies. Zombieland, Train to Busan, and Zombie by the Cranberries are a few, and there are definitely many more. I find it really bizarre that in movies that contain zombie outbreaks, no one tends to say, "Oh, they're behaving like zombies...maybe they're zombies". I mean, perhaps this is something that I alone find confusing. However, I don't think "zombies" are ever mentioned in this film. The zombie characters are described as engaging in "cannibalism", but that's about it. I feel like if an average Joe (or Jolene) were involved in a zombie apocalypse, and did look out the window, they would ask the question, "Why are all those people acting like zombies?" or better yet, maybe they'd just scream, "ZOMBIES!" I think we're past the point of having a world in which the zombie is an unknown concept...but that could just be me being picky.
I found it really interesting that this film ultimately pushes the concept that social media is a powerful tool that can be used to help, as opposed to hinder. So much of what we see in film and television about social media focuses on the negative. Sure, I don't fully buy the idea that the government/military would use people's social media posts to track their locations and save them in the case of a zombie apocalypse, but this movie kind of proves that it could be done. It encourages us to focus on the positive aspects of this technology, and sure, it's a little cheesy, but a bit of cheese is nice from time to time. Especially when the protagonists are people that we could recognise in our own lives.
This isn't the best zombie horror that I've seen in my life, but it does bring something kind of new to the genre, which is cool. If zombies are your jam, and like me, you'd trip over your own feet in a zombie apocalypse, I'd recommend giving this one a watch. It might just give you the hope, that you could perhaps survive.