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'All of Us Are Dead' director on why it's more intense than 'Squid Game' and 'Hellbound'

All 10 episodes of All of Us Are Dead are now streaming on Netflix.

By Josh Weiss
All of Us Are Dead PRESS

We didn't think it was possible for anything to up the Squid Game ante, but Netflix did just that with All of Us Are Dead (now streaming). Molded in the vein of undead horror/thrillers like Train to Busan, which is actually referenced by one of the characters, the latest small screen offering from South Korea follows a group of young students attempting to survive a zombie outbreak.

Based on Joo Dong-geun's webtoon (you can read it here), the television series — which is currently No. 3 on the subscription streaming platform — received a TV-MA rating for its brutal and violent imagery. Other South Korean hits were given the same audience designation, though All of Us Are Dead allegedly outpaced both of them due to its unflinching take on the zombie genre.

“The series received the maturity rating of 18+ for about seven different reasons, which would be one to two more than Squid Game or Hellbound,” director Lee JQ told Soompi (a website dedicated to reporting on Korean pop culture for English-speaking readers). "There are cruel and violent scenes, but we thought these would be necessary in order to stay true to the zombie genre."

When it came to casting the protagonists, the filmmaker wanted to go with lesser-known actors to help the story feel grounded. “I thought that bringing on actors who were great at acting, but still unknown to the public, would add to the immersion of the series,” he explained. "If you watch the show, I believe that you’ll find yourself falling more and more in love with both the characters and the actors who play them. It’s a testament to the appeal that each character has."

In terms of adapting the source material, he didn't want to "depart much from the original" comic, but went on to emphasize that some viewers "might get the feeling that the show is different from the original as far as the specific situations that happen to some of the kids as well as what each of the characters are like."

All 10 episodes of All of Us Are Dead are now streaming on Netflix. The show currently holds a 76 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“I truly can’t believe all the love it has received from so many countries around the world, I’m so thankful," JQ said of all the positive reactions. "I think this will come as a great relief to all the actors and staff who devoted themselves to this project for two years."