The new Netflix series that has climbed to the No. 1 spot amongst viewers, steps into a familiar genre. Zombie apocalypses are irresistible, and “All Of Us Are Dead” reminds us why. Despite the familiar tropes of the undead, the series makes use of its protagonists magnificently.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
From the very first episode, we understand that we are facing a very different breed of hero for the apocalypse. These are teenagers facing teenage situations, living their life with that confused energy and problems that adults consider petty. They have crushes, they can’t tell their crushes how they feel, they worry about their college futures, and they are bullied by other teenagers.
When the zombies begin their rampage and familiar classmates and teachers start turning into mindless, snapping creatures, it becomes very clear very fast to the students that their stomping ground, their second home, has turned into a bloody and gruesome nightmare. Their instinct to survive takes over, and they seek out safe passage in whatever room they can open and shut the door to. But, eventually, those among them succumb to infections. And here, the show takes a distinct approach.
The moment a student realizes he or she has been bitten, it becomes a heartbreaking experience for both the student and the audience. It is a mixture of confusion, fear, and devastation that the students go through as their friends are bitten. We see how their reactions differ when it is a friend who is bitten versus a random student. They are fine with bashing zombies, but they weep when it is their friend who has been turned. For the ones who are bitten, they are forced to reconcile with the fact that in a few moments, they will be trying to attack their own friends. They will become the thing they have been trying to survive from.
These are not adults familiar with the grind and the grim reality of life; these are teenagers who are being forced to grow up in the few seconds it takes for a human to turn into a zombie.
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The School They Know
The creators of “All Of Us Are Dead” use their central location of a school very well. This is an environment the students know extremely well. They know where the stairs go and which room they can run to. It is this knowledge that serves them well when they devise their escape plans.
It also allows them to make use of each room’s specific function to their advantage. The science lab, the broadcasting room, the music room, and the sports equipment room all belong to Each room ends up being a temporary home, and they make use of its unique purpose to make their escape each time. There are members of their group that fall in each room, reminding them relentlessly that this is not a game.
As the episodes go on, there is a sense of exhaustion that the protagonists and the audience feel. Aren’t enough characters dead? Isn’t this taking too long? How many times will they fail to escape? Where are they even trying to escape to?
It is telling that the show prompts its audiences to ask these questions, the same questions that the characters must be asking themselves. “All Of Us Are Dead” is merciless towards this building that was meant to be a sanctuary for children. People continue to fall, blood is spilt over and over, and no, the adults are not coming to save the day.
All Of Us Are Dead
It is easy to imagine that the title of the show is a thought that probably crossed every character’s mind at some point. The mixture of hopelessness and desperation is likely to have sucked the hope right out of them. It is certainly clear after a while that they are only going on, because there is nothing else to do. They are not trying to escape to friends or family, or redemption. They are purely acting on survival instinct.
“All Of Us Are Dead” is brutal, with characters losing parents, best friends, and siblings in mere seconds. There are several plotlines outside of the school and its teenagers. But it is the teenagers that draw us back in. It is in their isolation from the world around them, their debilitating belief that the adults will come to save them, and their preoccupations with their love lives and friendships, that the show finds its heart.
There are a lot of characters in whom the audience gets invested in and they are then lost to the virus. There are shades of gray for every character, and their inability to behave like adults sometimes leads to devastating consequences. With this show, we are reminded of the true horror of a zombie apocalypse—of watching all that we loved and took for granted turn into monsters, and eventually we are left with no other option, other than running away from them.
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