Korean Language Film
Overall Rating: 3.6/5
Director: Sang-ho Yeon
Gore Factor: Virtually None
Rewatchability: Once or Twice
Watch if: You're interested in a crisp, refreshing take on the zombie Genre.
Not If: You want to be scared
Similar To: Seoul Station
The Bare Bones: A young girl and her father are taking a trip to Busan when a zombie outbreak begins.
It is a interesting, unique take on zombie horror that left a pleasant taste in my mouth, and I'm usually not even a fan of modern zombie films. It has it's flaws, but I found it genuinely enjoyable. Even if you don't end up liking it, I encourage you to see it at least once, because even though there are some really, really dumb scenes, the movie as a whole was... enjoyable.
It's not often that we are privileged to see something so familiar in a newer light. I was hesitant to watch this film, as the light of the still too recent zombie obsession that has infected the media since the late phases of 2011 had left a bad taste in my mouth.
Not another Zombie movie. But, with this one at least, I was presently surprised. Train to Busan takes all of the old, beloved, overused tropes, and puts them in a situation that I personally had never considered, and certainly had never seen before.
Firstly, a disclaimer. Dong-seok Ma is on of my favorite actors ever. I mean, watch Train to Busan and try, just try, to tell me he isn't the hero that Gotham deserves. And Soo-an Kim (The little girl) did an amazing job of crying. (I'm not being snarky, the kid just cried a lot. Which, I suppose, in context of the film, is somewhat understandable.)
But in this film, while most of the actors were well invested and more or less believable, I would like to draw your attention to this guy.
The actual zombies are... I feel like someone went up to a bunch of dancers and contortionists and went "here's some cocaine, now go be a zombie."
They aren't scary, in fact, they're pretty meh. (Which here is a bit conflicting, because they look more like what zombies probably would look like than most things.) But in a film that relies upon the zombies themselves to hammer home the tension, silly zombies fall a bit flat.
That is the only reason this section is not a solid four. The settings were clever, the shots and choreography was visually interesting. The sheer volume of the outbreak was evident in almost every scene, as well as the slow realization that accompanies such vast devastation.
People do a lot of stopping and looking. And most of it is in really inconvenient places.
Zombie attacking you? Stop and watch it.
Someone you love is about to get killed in a rather preventable way? Stop and watch it.
I will however note, that our impatience and call to immediate action, may very well be a side effect of our American up bringing, but there were more than a few points where this occurrence, rather than solidifying the intended dread, as I believe was it's original purpose, it only served to frustrate the viewer.
Combined with the all-to-silly zombies, this film falters where it might have excelled.
The sense of dread and hopelessness that we've come to expect from zombie horror, the sheer distrust at the core of human, the desperation: it all comes across in this film. Despite being knocked down again and again by the aforementioned qualms, it manages to resurface, making for an engaging and unique experience that I highly recommend.
Unlike most modern horror, it doesn't feel the need to explain everything that the characters are feeling to you, and it's refreshing to see a perspective of zombie apocalypse where the vast majority of people are trying to work together instead of killing each other off. Perhaps this is reflective of our cultural difference, who know? But I vastly enjoyed this film, and whether or not you agree, I still think you should see it.