I’ll take you to mom no matter what
So you may have noticed that after my promise to start posting again regularly, I haven’t posted since, but there is a good reason for that, I got promoted! I have mentioned a few times on this site that one of my jobs was working at a cinema part time, working hard for minimum wage, and it paid off as I was promoted to manager (well, my actual title is Guest Experience Supervisor) at a different cinema in the chain I work for, and long story cut short, I now work in London.
I haven’t actually moved to London yet though, I am commuting and staying in hotels until I can find somewhere to live. The hotel I have spent most of my time in so far has an independent movie nearby, and when I went to watch something there I saw a trailer for a South Korean zombie film called ‘Train to Busan’, and it didn’t look terrible.
Long term readers of the site will know that I have grown exceptionally tired of the zombie genre, but this looks to be a relatively fresh take on things.
Seok-woo (Gong) is struggling to raise his daughter Soo-an (Kim) whilst juggling his successful fund management career, so much to the point where she wants to go and live with her mother in Busan. For her birthday he decides to grant her wish and the two travel from Seoul. Just after taking her seat, Soo-an notices the train station staff suddenly being tackled to the ground as the train pulls off.
Further down the train a young lady with a bite has managed to get onto a carriage and when checked upon, she suddenly attacks train staff and other passengers, and the chain of chaos starts going down the train. Whilst trying to run, Seok-woo shuts the door on Sang-hwa (Ma) and his pregnant wife Seong-kyeong (Jeong) when they are trying to run, although both are eventually let through, causing blows between the group. They soon realise that the zombies don’t know how to get through the doors.
The train eventually pulls into Daejeon, a city where a military blockade has successfully been put in place, but when they emerge from the station they see that the hundreds of soldiers and survivors have infact turned themselves. Several members of the group falls before a small handful of survivors manage to escape on the departing train, but it’s not only the infected that they now have to worry about as they try and find a place that is safe.
Reasonable zombie film?
“Train to Busan” reminded me a lot of “World War Z” during the trailer and the entire film has a similar bleak tone, albeit on a significantly smaller scale. Whilst it has it’s flaws, “Train to Busan” is certainly one of the better zombie films that I have seen in recent years. Granted, I know that’s not really a challenge, but there is still something to be said for the situation.
Let’s start with the zombies themselves. Unlike most zombie films, they do feel like a genuine threat because they are the fast-style zombies, rather than the shuffling type. They can run just as fast as the human characters do and I love the feeling that any character can die at any time, although as is typical for horror films, the kids are always fine and you never feel that they won’t get saved at the last second, which does happen on a regular basis.
That is my only issue with this film really, whilst the child character is fine and well acted, you never feel like her life is in a genuine position of threat, and it *spoiler alert* came as no surprise when the only two characters left alive at the end were a child and a pregnant woman. For me that is a big problem with horror films and it would actually be refreshing for a child to die in a mainstream horror movie, and more importantly, that surviving characters are predictable.
The characters are somewhat one-dimensional, especially arguably the antagonist, but I still found myself drawn to them and wanting the majority to survive, and that is something that I don’t get often. This is because other than the antagonist, they’re all pretty likeable, if a little naive.
Setting the film majoritively on a train is well used aspect as it adds a sense of claustrophobia to the situation, especially a scene where three of the main characters are trapped in a toilet cubicle that has a hoard of zombies directly outside of it. There are no windows in the cubicle and the only door leads them to almost inevitable death, so you feel just as trapped as they are, and this is feeling of being trapped is replicated in a few other situations where the character(s) can’t escape.
This isn’t the first zombie film that is set on a vehicle of some variety (another example being “Flight of the Living Dead”), but off of the top of my head it is probably the best one.
A decent enough zombie film and I would recommend it if you get a chance to watch it, and it’s a rare example of me giving the approved stamp to not only a zombie film, but a horror film in generally.
I know that this is a shorter review that normal but I don’t really have a lot to say. It is a cliched zombie film, but it is done in a far, far more professional manner than a lot of other movies in the genre.
Don’t go in expecting a genre-defining epic, but if you do watch this then you will have fun for just shy of two hours….oh yeah, it’s a near two hours long zombie film, which is remarkably long for a film of this type.