FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #91
Director(s): IL Cho
Writer(s): IL Cho, Matt Naylor
Starring: Yoo Ah-In, Park Shin-Hye
Let’s go back to a time that felt like decades ago; it was March 17th, 2020 and I was more than ready to get out of work so I can enjoy a couple brews with some like-minded folks for St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve always had fond memories associated with this holiday in my younger years with my chums so I try to definitely try to make it out every year and have a couple drinks with some friends and/or strangers that are destined to be friends. I knew that the COVID-19 pandemic was getting more and more serious but those had just been rumblings at most and the lingering whispers of an actual nation-wide shutdown seemed to be theory at best. Perhaps it was more of a subconscious denial where I thought that I knew it was going to happen eventually but not for a long time to come so for now, keep moving forward as usual with some reasonable caution. As I sat on the crusty barstool of a local dive in the mid afternoon, at the cusp of evening, the phone rang next to the bartender. The phone was answered, the conversation brief and then the eventual yet dreaded announcement was finally made; the bar was closing and businesses were ordered to be shut down for the foreseeable future. The COVID-19 National Shutdown had officially commenced.
Fast forward several months after total isolation; there was some glimmering hope, a somewhat reopening, then an immediate and second shutdown. I was definitely in a different mind space because I was able to witness what different parts of the country looked like during these times during my day job (the night one being the FEARtastic fiend that types away in their wonderfully haunted Vault). There were places that were more defiant than others to live a social life and other places that seemed like they had gone through an apocalypse that I’ve only seen in my favorite horror gems. Seeing what the year had taken from so many and how I found myself in different settings looking at the sheer damage of this pandemic, my mind started to feel a bit of fatigue but that’s why the Vault was always ready for me; a reminder that it was the macabre delights that would keep me on the straight and narrow, as odd as that sounds considering the straight was filled with skeletons and the narrow consisted of deafening screams. I would always escape into my vault to re-watch some great classics and even managed to add a few new gems to the my precious collection. During a flight to another random city, I happened to peruse one of my streaming sites to find a synopsis to a horror flick that seemed MUCH too fitting called #Alive.
The flick seemed simple enough being a horror film from Korea that deals with a zombie outbreak. However, what ultimately aught my attention was that the main character decides to be holed up in his apartment in order to survive the horrors that waited for him outside. I didn’t hesitate to download the flick and enjoy the viewing during a flight. There were so many obvious parallels to someone feeling trapped by a zombie apocalypse vs the every day folks that felt trapped by a virus that seemed to be unstoppable but the movie did such a great job to make the situation entertaining by putting the main character through several situations that made staying in isolation much more difficult. The movie was fun in the sense that it blended suspense, humor and the thoughts of what would I do in this situation at such a rapid pace! You see the main character go through some humorous, yet desperate times and then you begin to feel his agony as he realizes that isolation cannot last forever. Food, water and other supplies can only last you so long but the need to connect with others begin to fester the mind and the worry of your loved ones begin to weigh in on your very soul.
Actor Yoo Ah-In does an incredible job of going from annoying slacker to cunning survivor throughout the flick and his need to make that transition only strengthens when he makes a friend from the building across the street played by Park Shin-Hye. The connection these two cultivated throughout the movie felt sincere and although one can make the argument that anyone can become friends if the other option is pure isolation, it seems like the connection the two shared could have been cultivated at any time since their personalities paired well together and in a desperate attempt to finally come together, you are invested in their survival as they risk everything for each other in order to escape the horrors of the outside world.
In true Zombie flick fashion, the movie focuses on the dark side of humanity as a result of the outside horrors but also focuses on the strength of individuals that can overcome adversity, especially they have someone or people to be fighting for another day. The movie itself is fun yet poignant rollercoaster that felt much too real at parts for obvious reasons and I often wonder if the enjoyment of this particular flick was enhanced by the pandemic. Although this may be the case, I feel that all my favorite horror flicks were snapshots of certain parts of my life; there are horror flicks that bring me back to being eight in front of a TV with Flaming Hot Cheetos, or as 16 year old enjoying a Friday night with a group of friends or even as an young adult throwing Halloween horror viewing flicks with plenty of booze. Why should the pandemic be any different? Whenever I re-watch #Alive, because I know I’ll get there someday, I’ll remember being on a plane, feeling comfort in a time where most folks in the world had a fear of something they couldn’t control.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.