Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 3/5
Koreans have spoilt us for zombie content. Following last year’s excellent character study, Happiness, and off the back of the wildly successful Kingdom and Train to Busan, a lot of expectations were levied at the newest zombie craze, All Of Us Are Dead.
Taking a high school setting and throwing a zombie apocalypse into the mix may not sound like anything original but with 12 episodes to play with, there was certainly potential to do just that. Unfortunately, the ensuing result is a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Penned by the same screenwriter who wrote LUCA: The Beginning, much like that show All Of Us Are Dead starts brightly and soon tails off into contrived, frustrating waters. At its worst, this show is outright boring and drags its heels through forced character writing that feels completely at odds with the rest of the show.
The story itself is simple enough to understand; a zombie outbreak decimates a town called Hyosan, with authorities trying to get a grasp of the situation. Ground zero happens to be Hyosan High School, where a whole group of kids try to survive.
Among the kids we have a love triangle of sorts between Cheong-San, On-Jo and Su-Hyeok. For On-Jo, her father is a fireman and someone we follow across the course of the season.
However, these three kids are joined by a whole group of supporting characters, including Ji-Min, Dae-Su, Na-Yeon and teacher, Sun-Hwa. The trouble is, all of these characters are pretty archetypal and none of them are particularly gripping or likable enough to really rally behind for large swathes off this story.
Some of the choices these characters make are…questionable but then to be fair we have to remember these are teenagers in a heightened state of panic and shock (typified by how they all start crying when it begins raining later in the season.)
The other issue stems from the main themes this show runs with, and the deeper implication it has to worldbuilding.
I won’t spoil anything here but suffice to say bad guys don’t get their comeuppance and with themes of bullying and injustice prevalent right the way through the show, this feels more like a social commentary about how unfair the schooling system is when it comes to tackling abuse.
While that in itself is beautifully handled across the episodes, it doesn’t exactly make for enthralling TV or satisfying character arcs when those you want to see get killed aren’t.
The other issue here stems from plot armour. Now, obviously there’s always a level of this with the main characters but Cheong-San and On-Jo’s father are so blatantly protected that it’s almost insulting. The latter manages to evade a whole barrage of bullets from highly trained operatives from a few meters away.
It’s a shame too because the action here is actually pretty well shot. The first two episodes and a couple of later chapters are nail-bitingly tense and there are some nice ideas to the overall story that help make this a unique proposition.
Unfortunately with 12 episodes to play with, the pacing soon slows to a halt, with episode 8 in particular deciding now’s a good time to do 50 minutes of character development… eight hours into the show.
As an action-packed show to watch in-the-moment, All Of Us Are Dead is a decent enough watch but having slept on this one before writing the full season review, there are way too many issues in this to make it a gripping zombie drama everyone should check out.
This certainly doesn’t touch either Kingdom or Happiness, which are much better propositions than this one. Most of this season does seemingly slump into middling mediocrity.
This isn’t a bad show though, and the first half of this season is really well done. It’s gripping, action-packed and full of zombie action. Unfortunately, just like LUCA: The Beginning before it, the script goes from tight and gripping to eyebrow raising ludicrousy by season’s end.
If you’re looking for a mammoth zombie drama to tide you over, with plenty of action, gore and survivalist drama, there’s enough here to enjoy – especially if you can look past some of the big contrivances. If however, you’re after something bigger than “just another zombie flick”, you’re likely to come away disappointed.
Verdict - 6.5/10