'All of Us Are Dead': is the new Netflix chart-topping South Korean show worth watching?

The zombie horror series hopes to follow the success of 'Squid Game'

A scene from 'All of Us Are Dead', the newest South Korean show to hit Netflix. Photo: Netflix
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As it was only released on Netflix on Friday, it may be too soon to seriously hail the new South Korean show All of Us Are Dead as "the next Squid Game", but that hasn't stopped critics from doing so.

The 12-part series, which is based on a 29-episode webtoon called Now at Our School, is a coming-of-age zombie apocalypse horror that's set in a high school that becomes ground zero for a virus outbreak. Pupils are trapped inside and must fight their way out – lest they become part of the rabid undead.

As is often the case with South Korean shows, it also features undertones of complex societal commentary that's relevant to viewers across the world.

Its trailer already has 13 million views on YouTube and it topped TV show charts for the streaming platform in several countries, including in the UAE, according to FlixPatrol.

Watch the full trailer here:

It stars actors Yoon Chan-young, Park Ji-hu, Cho Yi-hyun, Park Solomon and Yoo In-soo. Squid Game fans will also recognise Lee Yoo-mi, who plays wealthy student Na Yeon, as she took on the role of player 240 in the record-breaking show, aka the lady who made the ultimate sacrifice in the marble game for North Korean defector Kang Sae-byeok.

South Korean actress Lee Yoo-mi poses for a photo call on the red carpet of the 42nd annual Blue Dragon Film Awards in Seoul on November 26, 2021. AFP

South Korea has nailed the zombie genre in the past with the likes of Train to Busan, Kingdom and #Alive, but director Lee Jae-kyoo believes he can bring something fresh to the table, largely thanks to the school setting.

"I think these conflicts between genders and classes and different hierarchies, appear everywhere and in all corners of the world," Lee told Tatler. "It just shows through at the school because that’s the setting.

"But after you’re done watching, I think you will believe that these are actually universal themes that we can all resonate with. I thought it was a fresh approach to put these immature adolescents against zombies on a school campus, so I’m very pleased to bring you this idea."

The virus storyline will also resonate amid the pandemic. "The instinct to survive surpasses intelligence," says a teacher in the trailer to the show. "Humanity has never defeated a virus."

"Everyone will die," he says in a later snippet. "Don't bother having hope."

Despite that dismal outlook, reviews for the show are looking bright, with the show currently boasting a 100 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an 85 per cent average audience score, plus 97 per cent of Google users like it.

Critic reviews are fairly mixed, however, with NME suggesting the show "bites off more than it can chew", as Carmen Chin gives it a three out of five, saying the emphasis on carnage "takes away from any possible critical deep dives into the show's extensive roster of main characters, or even any crucial worldbuilding".

That said, the high-energy, gory, not-for-the-faint-hearted show is bound to appeal to zombie fans (and there are plenty out there), even if it doesn't capture the world's collective imagination in quite the same way as its globally renowned predecessors.

When 'Squid Game' came to Expo 2020 Dubai:

Updated: January 30, 2022, 10:55 AM