The best part of Lee Soo-sung’s movie Gangnam Zombie is the stylish opening credits which outlines everything viewers need to know about the creation of the virus that can turn people into the walking dead and why it got contained. Had that been the movie, I’d rank it as the best part than the actual story that’s presented.
After two robbers break into a freight container to steal some random goods, presumably from the lab that made the mutagen, they encounter a cat who attacks one of them! The other is concerned but before he can take his pal to the hospital, gets attacked and presumably bitten! After rolling unconscious into the river and coming too much later, that’s when the opening credits roll and somehow, the covid-19 pandemic is to blame!
If this intro is ignored then the rest of the film won’t make a lick of sense. Just how it all ties together is still odd, and I get the sense Lee is trying to make a statement in a movie that’s more satire than horror. The humour gets overplayed when considering the type of music used, and it leaves me wondering what the overall design of the film is.
That also includes how Hyeon-suk (Il-Joo Ji) comes out as not worried at all about the health crisis going on, which is part of the film’s early bits of dialogue. His parents sheltered themselves from the world, and even this guy is asked to come home. That’s about the only extent why this virus is acknowledged as it really doesn’t connect to the zombie outbreak that’s next to come!
Soon afterwards, he sees Min-jung (Park Ji-yeon), a fellow office-worker, getting bullied on the streets. Since they don’t have much to do with family during the Christmas holiday, they’re going to work instead. But when they learn about the crisis outside, everyone better band together if they’re going to make it out alive. Throughout this story, Hyeon-suk is obviously attracted to this woman, and to wonder just how far he’ll go to save her is about the only reason why I saw this film to the end.
Although Gangnam Zombie is nothing like other films in this subgenre produced in South Korea, the metaphors aren’t totally lost to anyone watching. There’s some shenanigans regarding how the building’s owner treats their tenants, but I feel this subplot doesn’t matter at all. Instead, it’s about how these office workers handle themselves while the medical emergency goes from nothing to we better run for the hills.
The only thing keeping this film together is Hyeon-suk’s interest in getting the girl, the hand-to-hand fist fights he gets with the zombies (honestly, I’d be using a 10′ pole than engaging them that close) and his co-workers who are South Korea’s answers to WKRP in Cincinnati. Although that concern is not on every frame of this work, her stand-offishness kept me interested. She’s more of the highlight of this film than anything else.
Honestly, this movie can hardly be classified as horror. I’d say it’s more of a romantic dramedy than anything else. It may well achieve a cult status for those open enough for something completely different in this genre, but ultimately, it needs to be marketed differently to win any recognition. In a season where horror flicks are being released a mile a minute as All Hallow’s Eve approaches, this one will most likely get missed, but I’d say give it a chance. You’ll be surprised.
3 Stars out of 5