Plot – While a zombie virus breaks out in South Korea, passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan – Train to Busan.
Director – Sang-ho Yeon
Released – 2016
I’ve never been the biggest fan of the zombie horror, with the vast majority of the genre made up of films that favour blood, guts and cliches over creating an interesting story that not only scares but is worthy of repeat viewings but once in a while you find a film that not only subverts your expectations but also proves that even in the most crowded of genres, fresh ideas are still possible. Train To Busan is one such film.
Spending almost the entire two-hour running time onboard an intercity train, writer/director Sang-ho Yeon takes an interesting location and formidable foe to create one of the most realistic and emotional zombie films I’ve ever seen. But what makes this film so great is the diverse collection of interesting characters.
Most horror films, particularly zombie films, treat all but the main protagonists as disposable characters who will over the course of the film get whittled down in a predictable order and because of this the audience usually finds it hard to care when they die. In contrast, Train to Busan takes the time to craft characters who form connections with, feeling a great sense of loss and emotion when some inevitably don’t survive.
This is where the film’s strength lies, but not only that. The film changes your opinions on characters throughout. These aren’t the usual cardboard stereotypes, with redemption possible for even the most unlikeable of characters. With the same to be said about the protagonist, he isn’t your typical hero, selfish and unlikeable at the start, but developing over the course of the film into someone you care about and admire.
The attempt at realism is a theme that runs thought out the movie, it’s clear that the filmmaker has spent the time to sit down and really think about how people would act in each situation, while the nice comic touch along with some witty dialogue prevents the film from taking itself too seriously.
But what’s most surprising is how almost two hours set onboard the train with zombies never feels boring or drags, this is no straightforward task. Yeon worked hard to keep the sense of tension and peril at a high throughout, never the character or the audience’s chance to relax, something that only gets worse as the movie passes the halfway point and the body count of characters we have grown to care about starts to increase.
Even if you’re not a big horror fan, I would urge you to give Train to Busan a chance, It’s not just another mindless zombie flick filled with blood and guts. Instead, you’ll find an impressive and emotional story filled with plenty of nail-biting thrills, impressive special effects and characters you can properly invest in.
It’s a powerful film which will pull on your heartstrings and if like bring tears on a couple of occasions. This is so much more than a zombie flick, it’s a devastating drama about how far people will go to survive or protect the ones they love.