A brisk opening lays the groundwork for a brutal new zombie series with a novel setting.
This recap of All Of Us Are Dead season 1, episode 1 contains spoilers.
All Of Us Are Dead begins, predictably, with violence. On a rooftop, students beat a boy within an inch of his life and then throw him from a rooftop to bounce on all the signage on the way down. After, his father looms over him in his hospital bed, and the boy’s eyes turn red and bloody, and his jaw snaps, and he growls that he wants to kill — kill the boys, kill his father, kill anyone. Putting his medical degree to good use, the man stoves his son’s head in with a copy of the Bible.
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All Of Us Are Dead season 1, episode 1 recap
Mysterious opening notwithstanding, this premiere episode — which runs over an hour — is simplistic in its storytelling. You can piece together most of the events in the cold open in the first few minutes, as we learn that Mr. Lee, the father who gave a whole new meaning to “book club” in the opening, is a teacher at the Hyosan High School, and his son, Jin-su, was an outcast relentlessly bullied by his peers. We’re introduced to the gang of disgraceful bullies nice and early, as well as one of their former members, Su-hyeok, who wants to intervene in their misbehavior but has sworn off fighting. Mr. Lee was well-known as a genius but became distant and eccentric after the disappearance of his son. In his lab, a hidden hamster bites one of the students, and in a show titled All Of Us Are Dead, you know that’s not a good thing.
We learn promptly afterward that Mr. Lee has developed a virus that transmutes fear into rage — a noble anti-bullying endeavor, though obviously misguided, especially considering that Mr. Lee is pretty explicitly a psychopath at this point. He kidnaps the infected student, Hyeon-ju, and keeps her bound in his office while he vlogs about it, and then gives demented lectures to the students about how the sheer will to survive defines an entire ecosystem, with a particular focus on viruses and parasites. (Now probably isn’t the best time for the line about humanity never having truly defeated a virus, but let’s enjoy our escapism.) Before long, Hyeon-ju has broken free of the office and revealed what happened to her, but the infection has thoroughly taken hold of her, so she struggles and bites, taking a scrape out of On-jo, whose father is a first responder. (On-jo has eyes for Su-hyeok, but has lived next door to Cheong-san her whole life, whose parents own a food joint and give her free fried chicken. Just taking account of the high-school politics here.)
In the struggle, Hyeon-ju — who, by the way, was part of the gang who bullied Jin-su, explaining Mr. Lee’s lack of sympathy — bit one of the school nurses. Pretty soon, she chews a student’s face off, and he staggers to his feet with the tell-tale jerky, crunchy manner of a zombie. And just like that, the infection begins to spread, and quickly. The show’s brutal, employing (somewhat obvious) CGI and (largely very good) practical effects to bring the nastiness to life. These zombies sprint, which makes them scarier. At one point, as Eun-ji, one of the victims of the bullies, teeters on the school’s roof ready to kill herself, bodies come flying out of the windows below, the undead having body-tackled their victims right through them. There’s a nice intensity to these sequences; the speed with which the infection spreads, the devastation that it immediately creates, enhanced by small touches like a student wearing earbuds walking obliviously along as carnage ensues behind them. But some high-school banter notwithstanding, none of this is played for laughs. Instead, it’s played for terror, and in this blistering opening, All Of Us Are Dead delivers a good helping of it — as well as beginning to live up to its title.