#ALIVE. (2020) A NETFLIX KOREAN ZOMBIE MOVIE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

#ALIVE. (2020) BASED ON ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, #ALONE, BY HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER MATT NAYLOR. DIRECTED BY CHO IL-HYUNG. STARRING YOO AH-IN AND PARK SHIN-HYE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ll probably be fed to the lions for saying this, given that this is a very popular film that’s currently getting good reviews, but I was bored brainless by this Netflix Korean zombie apocalypse movie, and I normally love Korean horror. It’s a bit like TRAIN TO BUSAN, but set in one guy’s apartment as he tries to withstand the aforementioned zombie apocalypse all on his lonesome.

Joon-Woo is the main character. He’s a young male with bleached blonde hair, living in an apartment in Seoul with his parents and sister. He is a video game live streamer. I looked this up. It means that he plays video games while watched online by a live audience. Surely the only thing worse than playing a video game yourself is watching someone else play one.

And I’m not entirely sure about this bit, but I think that the whole notion of people ‘subscribing’ to your ‘Youtube channel’ means that they actually pay you for the privilege of watching you play your long boring game for as long as it takes. This seems strange and alien to me. The people who do this must be nuts.

Also, do you earn enough money to live on doing this? Can you stay home in your apartment every day, making enough moolah from this live streaming malarkey to ensure that you don’t have to go to work in a shop, office or factory every day? I’m clearly in the wrong business…

Certainly, our so-called ‘hero’ Joon-Woo doesn’t look like the kind of guy who works for a living in the traditional sense, what with all the time he spends asleep on the couch, only shifting his carcass to eat, drink or go online.

Anyway, Joon-Woo wakes up one morning to find his family out, going about their usual business, and a horrible viral infection taking hold of the population of Seoul.

Marauding hordes of ‘infected’ zombies are running amok, trying to bite and eat the uninfected. He can see all this happening quite clearly from his window, and the advice from the News is to ‘stay home to stay safe.’ Remind you of anything, lol?

The film is strangely prophetic, in a way, foreshadowing the coronavirus pandemic and the Lockdown the way it does. If we’ve had one message drilled into us this year, it’s to ‘stay home to stay safe,’ and avoid the deadly virus that lurks menacingly outside our doors and is just waiting for a chance to permeate our strongholds and fortresses and make us sick.

Joon-Woo is short of food, water and Internet and phone access, the basics of life, although he does manage to post a message asking for help on social media, a message which will ultimately prove to be of the utmost importance.

With the help of Yoo-Bin, a really boring but ballsy girl his own age who lives in the apartment block opposite his and with whom he makes a connection, Joon-Woo battles the zombies which threaten his and his new friend’s existence.

I just found the zombie bits so mindlessly boring. When I was watching the infected creatures do their crazy, foaming-at-the-mouth thang, I wasn’t seeing them as real zombies (as I would have if I’d been watching George Romero or Sam Raimi) but as movie extras who’d had to sit in a chair for hours getting their scary slap trowelled on by a make-up artist.

I even found myself wondering if they had the make-up removed before they finished up for the day, or if they rode the subway home to their spouses and kids with the blood and guts still on their shirt-fronts and all around their mouths and in their teeth. I lost interest in the film completely, wondering about the daily lives of the extras, lol.

Also, the film is way too technology-heavy, a big no-no for me, and the guy’s bleached blonde buzzcut never grew out during the month or so he was in ‘Lockdown.’

And he should have been in the early stages of starvation as well, seeing as the script sees him more or less foodless at the start of the zombie outbreak, but the film shows no unpleasant realities of this kind, just the marauding mindless zombies, mindlessly marauding away all through the ninety minutes.

The most extraordinary thing for me about the film was learning that people will actually let other people pay them to watch them play a video game, and that the other people will willingly hand over the cash for this, even though no-one’s forcing them or holding a gun to their head. (That’s the only way they could get me to do this, I’m telling you that for nothing.)

My kids tell me that this is what young ‘uns do with their lives now; just stay home all day and be YouTubers or live streamers. When I was a young ‘un, streamers were something you threw around the place at a party or a parade.

The world we live in now is a strange and scary place. Some of the developments in modern technology I quite enjoy, such as being able to ‘catch up’ on a TV show I missed by using something called the ‘player,’ but that’s about as far as I’ve gone, technology-wise. Sorry to end on a massive downer, guys, but I genuinely fear for all of our futures.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

THE ISLE. (2000) A GRUESOME SOUTH KOREAN FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE ISLE. (2000) A TARTAN ASIA EXTREME FILM DIRECTED BY KIM KI-DUK. STARRING SEO JEONG AND KIM YOO-SUK. ©

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘The most sexually perverse movie to hit our screens since David Cronenberg’s CRASH.’

Daily Record.

I don’t know about ‘sexually perverse,’ but this Korean film is certainly what I would describe as an ‘ouch-y’ type of a movie. There are at least two major ‘ouch’ moments in the film, each involving fish-hooks (yes, fish-hooks!) that I personally could have done without.

Apart from these squeamish-making scenes, and the scenes of animal cruelty in it as well,THE ISLE is a really rather good, starkly beautiful film about the folks whom society throws away; prostitutes, their pimps, people who feel isolated and the people who put themselves outside the law by committing maybe a one-off crime, as in the case of the film’s male lead, a criminal on the run from the law.

It’s the story of a stunningly beautiful mute woman called Hee-Jin, who runs what is known as a ‘fishing isle.’ Men come and stay at the gorgeous picturesque lake for a few days at a time in order to avail of the lake’s excellent fishing and take a break from the rat-race for a bit.

They stay in structures that each look like a child’s wendy house or play-tent on top of a raft. The tiny ‘houses’ are not big enough for a man to stand up in, but he can sleep in them, and also use them to shelter against the rain if needs be. The ‘toilet’ is merely a hatch leading to a hole in the bottom of the raft: lift up the hatch and do your business in the lake. It’d put me off swimming in the lake, that’s for damn sure.

Hee-Jin rows out to the little fishing ‘houses’ with bait for the fishermen, and coffee and food as well. They’re all sexist pigs who try to get their ravishing ‘landlady’ to speak, but she just flat-out ignores their bullshit. She’s not only supplying them with the necessities of life and fishing, however.

The most expensive commodity with which the fishermen are provided is, well, sex. Teenage prostitutes are rowed out to the fishing houses by Hee-Jin, whenever the men require them. The girls have a pimp, but to all intents and purposes, Hee-Jin is their madam, although she has sex with the clients herself when required.

The girls cut tragic figures, with their skinny legs and tiny feet in their huge clunky hooker shoes, the miniscule outfits and garish make-up of their trade. They act so blasé and know-it-all, but underneath all the bluster and bravado, they’re just children. It’s heartbreaking, really, to see them being pawed and mauled and even abused by the disgusting, much older businessmen who have rented the fishing houses.

A problem arises when one of the little baby hookers develops a crush on Hyun-shik, the criminal on the run with whom Hee-Jin, mistress of the fishing isle, has fallen in love, or in her version of love, anyway.

Both Hee-Jin and Hyun-sik have a very skewed take on love. Their affair is violent, masochistic and probably very unhealthy by so-called ‘normal’ standards. It seems to be the case that they’re almost vying with each other to see who can physically hurt themselves the most, usually with the dreaded fish-hooks.

Hee-Jin is a woman to whom violence comes easily. She swims like a fish and is eerily and supernaturally mermaid-like in the way in which she silently manipulates the residents of the fishing isle and the prostitutes and pimps who frequent the area also. I don’t fancy the chances of the little baby hooker who falls for Hyun-sik, the man whom the damaged-beyond-repair Hee-Jin has marked down for herself…

The film is visually gorgeous to look at. The isolated lake in the rain, the lonely fishing houses in the sunlight, the solitary Hee-Jin as she sits with her dog watching the rain fall on her little domain; it’s all haunting, compelling beyond words. The isolation of the undoubtedly fabulous surroundings mirrors exactly the alienation of the protagonists. Watch the film with your legs tightly closed and your hand clamped firmly over your mouth. Why? I have only one word for you people… fish-hooks. Or is that really two words…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com