It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before, and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born.

For the curious, here are links to 20082009 (a bad year), 201020112012 (when we left the blog behind), 20132014201520162017201820192020, and 2021.

All of Us Are Dead Season 1, Episodes 1-6

Based on the webtoon Now at Our School by Joo Dong-geun (2009-2011)

Directed by Lee Jai-kyoo & Kim Nam-su

Written by Chun Sung-il

I had nothing but praise for the first half of All of Us Are Dead, and while the final six episodes don’t suffer from a drop off in quality, it does become a little exhausting by the time we cross the finish line. Although, to be fair, we do get a few shorter episodes as the show reaches its climax; 53–55-minute episodes instead of 57-66-minutes. And just like the first half, there’s a ton of story packed into those minutes, making every installment feel practically like a feature film.

I’m going to try to avoid spoilers here, since every episode ends on a fantastic cliffhanger, and I don’t want to give too much away. I mentioned a sci-fi twist at the end of Episode 5 and vaguely complimented the way Episode 6 begins to play it out, well this becomes a central feature to the show moving forward, so I’m going to go ahead and talk about it.

If you want to avoid it, just back out now and stick with the first half of the season review and know that this is a rave. Watch this show. Go on. Do it.

Okay, the twist is that some people, when bit by the zombies, don’t change completely. They have heightened senses, are stronger than normal, and can’t be killed. They also have limited control over their hunger. Oh, they still want to eat you, but with effort can talk themselves out of acting on the impulse.

We get three characters who go through this transformation, Gwi-nam (Yoo In-soo), who is basically chaotic evil, Nam-ra (Cho Yi-hyun) who is chaotic good, and Eun-ji (Oh Hye-soo) who is the chaotic neutral. I know those aren’t entirely accurate classifications, but I don’t play D&D so forgive me. Gwi-nam becomes the main villain of the show, relentlessly hunting down our heroes in order to exact revenge on Cheong-san (Yoon Chan-young) for putting out his eye and tossing him to the zombies – although he kind of enjoys the monster/human hybrid he’s become. Nam-ra steps up and becomes part of the group for real, using her new abilities to provide warnings of danger and to help face down Gwi-nam and other zombie threats.

Eun-ji is the most interesting to me, though. After being bullied, molested, and left for dead, she has no more fucks to give. In one of my favorite moments, in an act of pure liberation and glee, she sets the school on fire and then rides off into the city on a bike, as carefree as could be. Sure, the sprinklers go off and the fire is contained, but she doesn’t know that and for the first time in the entire series, we get to see her happy.

It’s sweet, in a totally nihilistic way.

As the show builds, we follow two groups of students, our main heroes mentioned above and in the previous review, and a quartet of characters who include the obnoxiously adorable senior Park Mi-jin (Lee Eun-saem), Yoo Jun-seong (Yang Han-yeoi) who just wants to not be dealing with any of this, and two archery students, Jung Min-jae (Jin Ho-eun) and Jang Ha-ri (Ha Seung-ri), who happens to be Woo-jin’s (Son Sang-yeon) older sister and a badass archery hero. He’s in the other group, but his sister doesn’t know if he’s alive or dead.

Both narrative lines are loaded with drama, danger, and potential death and when they finally, inevitably converge, there’s a feeling of satisfaction and maybe even a little hope that they might all make it out alive.

They don’t, but I’ll let you watch to find out who makes it to the end.

The series conclusion is satisfying, in a bleakly dark way. They still manage to leave us with a little bit of hope, though. Be prepared for a lot of crying and deep realistic emotional responses to all the horrific death and violence these kids get swept up in. And we end with a world that has fundamentally changed, while on some levels, remains exactly the same as before, just like in the real world. There are enough plot threads left dangling to give us a good launching point for a future second season, but if that doesn’t happen, All of Us Are Dead can stand as a solid one-and-done.

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