Latest action, horror flick to come out of South Korea is a non-stop, rabies infested train ride. Train to Busan takes hold of the Zombie and provides us with a cocktail of classic horror alongside a shot of something much more sinister, finished off with a deeply moving message at the bottom of this glass.
Of course, this is a formula we are all familiar with. An equation that has been solved, time and time again, yet writer, director Sang-ho Yeon (who is no stranger to such a genre) brings a certain flare that cannot be ignored. With the success of Japanese horror’s, the Eastern world seems to have hit the nail on then head when it comes to scare tactics and this Korean flick frightens in a much more profound and realistic fashion. Think virus outbreak, 28 Day Later rage disease with a Residential Evil vibe, rather than the vintage Evil Dead monsters.
Workaholic, fund manager (or bloodsucker, as some of the cast refer to him as,) and recently divorced Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo) seems to be neglecting his young daughter Soo-An (played by the adorable Kim Soo-Ahn) who desperately wants to go see her mum in Busan. Never keeping his promise, he says he will take her next weekend, but when she threatens to ride the train by herself, he gives in and begrudgingly takes the morning off work to take her. As a zombie Bambi stumbles to its feet after being hit by a trucker, followed by havoc breaking out as they step into the train, we can certainly hazard a guess as to where this one is heading.
Train to Busan travels at full steam ahead, and certainly doesn’t have any signal failures. Whilst it is highly entertaining watching something at such pace, seeing more character development would have given this project the sprinkles it needed. Perhaps cutting down repetitive zombie grazing flashes and replacing them with a bit more dialogue would have lowered the predictability – especially in the latter half of the film.
This becomes a hybrid of typical cheesy horror tactics, mixed with a much more ominous and threatening tone. And the threat, seems to be humans, not the disease that is consuming them. At times the special effects left much to be desired, but in the main this doesn’t dilute the story at hand. With horror, inevitably comes nervous laughter – and here there is no stopping this defence mechanism. Albeit, Yeon gives us plenty of insanely funny moments. Comedian come combat warrior Sang-Hwa (Ma Dong-Seok) and his heavily pregnant wife bring sarcasm and dry humour; delivering much needed light hearted-ness to this life of death situation. Yong-Suk (Kim Eui-Sung) a selfish middle aged man who successfully attempts to sacrifice everyone else but himself in this zombie apocalypse represents just how self-centred us humans can be at times – whilst the repetitive nature of this character becomes dull, there is immense satisfaction in watching him finally receive his comeuppance.
The inevitable climax is executed with artistic finesse as sadness dawns upon the remaining survivors. The overall message here is don’t just think about yourself, help others as well as we need each other to survive. Considering this is Yeon’s first live action film after spending his time working in animation, this appears to be a pretty good stepping stone for the next chapter of his career.
In other words – jump on this train, but be prepared for a fight.
Train to Busan is out in cinemas 28th Oct