REVIEW: Netflix's Alice in Borderland keeps you at the edge of your seat

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Alice in Borderland.
Alice in Borderland.

Netflix original series Alice In Borderland is set in a dystopian parallel universe of modern-day Tokyo, where people are forced to participate in sadistic games to survive. Kento Yamazaki stars as Ryohei Arisu, while Tao Tsuchiya portrays Yuzuha Usagi.

Apparently, the series borrows elements from Disney’s Alice In Wonderland: Arisu is Alice; Usagi is Japanese for rabbit; a person named Hatter is also introduced later in the series; and trump cards are used as part of the vicious games.

In the empty streets of Tokyo, when the night falls, game arenas start to appear randomly. When a player enters the game arena, forced exits will lead to a gruesome death with a red laser shooting vertically from the sky, right through the person’s skull. Reluctant as the players may be, they have to participate in whatever game that is assigned and come out victorious — even if it means sacrificing another — in order to survive another few more days in this twisted world.

Each game is tagged to a trump card, where the number shows the level of difficulty, while the suit indicates the type of game. Spades is a physical game; clubs is a team battle; diamonds is a test of wits; and hearts, which is the worst category, “is a game of betrayal that messes with emotions.”

At the end of the day, players who have won will get the trump card and an additional number of days to stay in this dark world based on the number on the card. Players whose “visa” has expired will once again meet with a deadly end.

Directed by Shinsuke Sato, Alice In Borderland kind of resembles the 2011 film series Gantz (also by the same director), where recently deceased people are forced to join a game to hunt and kill aliens for points. But what makes Alice In Borderland even scarier is that the game master is unknown and there seems to be no way out of this strange and spine-chilling world except to collect all playing cards.

In fact, the players do not even know how they get into this messy situation — Arisu and his friends are hiding in a public bathroom from the police when the lights go out suddenly and everyone has disappeared.

On this note, it is curious to know how the empty streets of Tokyo are shot, including the bustling Shibuya crossing. Either the streets are cordoned off and filmed late at night or early in the morning, or they are created through impressively realistic computer-generated imagery. Regardless, editing work for this series is definitely a feat.

Alice In Borderland is the third most-watched series on Netflix in Singapore, as of 15 December 2020.

Rated at R21 for obvious reasons, Alice In Borderland, which was released worldwide on 10 December, has since reached the third most-watched series on Netflix in Singapore. In addition to its amazing scenes, the suspenseful plot is definitely binge-worthy for it keeps you at the edge of your seat wondering what will happen to Arisu next.

The last episode also points at the possibility of another season, which most would welcome with open arms. Given its surging popularity, a season renewal is clearly not out of grasp. We should also see Yamazaki and Tsuchiya reprising their roles too.

All in all, if you have one whole day to spare, Alice In Borderland will keep you entertained and yearning for more despite its grisly and gory scenes.

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