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The Issue With #Alive That Fans Just Can't Ignore

On September 8, 2020, #Alive dropped on Netflix, encouraging American viewers to consider the question "What if zombies, but Korean?" The movie tells the story of Oh Joon-woo, a game streamer struggling to survive after the rise of an undead horde, and his valiant war on hopelessness, waged alongside a fellow neighborhood resident, axe and booby trap enthusiast Yoo-bin. Directed by Cho Il-hyung and based on a 2019 script from Devour screenwriter Matt Naylor, the film has been met with plenty of positive reviews.

One factor seems to bother even the stalwart pro-#Alive crowd, if Reddit's /r/netflix forum is any indicator. Specifically, it was that most iconic and cherished of American filmmaking traditions that got in the crowd's craw: product placement. Writing on the subject, user CuddlySadist, who claims to be from South Korea, stated that the film's laser focus on various food brands "just made this movie feel even more disappointing than it probably deserved. It's currently a meme of food marketing with 3 different foods being focused on for an unnecessary amount of the movie."

There was one other issue that was brought up more than paid product plugs, though. More users than you might expect voiced their disappointment that the movie wasn't Train to Busan.

#Alive's audience is feeling some feelings

User Godwin101 wrote, "It was so bad in comparison to train to Busan... especially coming from S. Korea." Conversely, Moo58 stated, "I liked it. Yes, it's no Train to Busan. But still good in its own right. If Busan is rated 5 stars, then I'd give this a 3." User el_senyor_ningu, trying to return the conversation to a place of decorum and fairness, said, "People are comparing it to Train to Busan, and this is a little movie with not much of a budget. It's a not a fair [comparison]," while Villad_Rock called it "Better than Train to Busan."

Train to Busan, released in 2016, was another South Korean zombie movie, albeit one with a completely different plot, centering around a group of survivors on a train. A few users were quick to point out that comparing two movies strictly on the basis of their being from the same country and falling under the same genre was a touch problematic, since you wouldn't, for example, compare Batman Returns and Miracle on 34th Street just because they're both American Christmas movies. Some others looked past the cosmetic and shallow similarities to other pictures, lauding #Alive as a triumphant allegory for the everyday experience of the socially anxious. "The whole thing is a metaphor," wrote user SaulJoker, "for how introverted people see the outside world, especially if they suffer from anxiety or trust issues and/or have difficulty socializing in person." User Crowiii continued in that vein, calling it "one of the best zombie movies I've seen in recent years."