Movie Of The Week: TRAIN TO BUSAN Is The Most Tense And Terrifying Zombie Movie In Years You must watch this Korean zombie movie
I’m so tired of zombies. We’ve told and heard the same zombie story over and over again. It’s not the zombies that we should worry about, it’s us, the humans, who are the real threat to society! There have been a couple things that have done interesting things with zombies, like Warm Bodies using them to tell a romance, and the 28 Days franchise speeding them up. World War Z tried to depict a horde of rushing zombies like some kind of national disaster, but the rest of the movie didn’t work well enough.
So I’m thrilled that Korean horror film Train to Busan is the one zombie thing in the past couple of years that really made me sit up and take notice. It’s incredible.
Seok-woo is a divorced fund manager who has a terrible relationship with his daughter. He buys her a Wii not noticing that she already has a Wii. To try to be a better father, he honors her wish to take her on a train ride to Busan, where her mother lives. The train is filled with colorful characters. There’s a strong, burly blue-collar guy with a pregnant wife. There’s a baseball team where one of the members has a crush on this girl. There’s an elderly pair of sisters. A guy suffering from PTSD. And there’s a selfish COO of some corporation.
They’re pretty much stock characters. They behave how you expect, they interact how you expect. The thing that makes all of them stand out is the performances. Most of these people are likable, and they feel more fully realized than they’re actually written. You wouldn’t mind sitting on a train with these people, which is maybe one of the best compliments you can give a character because, really, who do you want to spend time with on a train? Have you ever been on a train?
Things start to go wrong when a sick girl gets on the train. It turns out there’s a zombie apocalypse going on in the city, and this sick girl spreads the disease to the passengers.
This kicks off the most innovative and tension-filled zombie movies in years. Because the movie takes place on a bullet train, the film has to find a way to use its tight spaces in smart ways. I don’t want to spoil these surprises for you, because they are incredibly clever. I will say they find a way to use train tunnels and the zombie’s traits in a fun, tension-filled way.
Train to Busan understands that the key to horror isn’t the moment when someone dies, it’s the moments before they die. It wants you to curl your toes and rub your forehead. It wants you to squirm in your seat. I mean, think about it this way: watching a zombie struggle with someone isn’t scary. The scary part is trying to avoid them, it’s not getting to that point in the first place.
The movie also knows how to introduce its zombies. By front-loading their dangers and showing us how fast they are, how they move in weird hordes and have simplified senses, we understand their limitations. So when the movie decides to give the characters smart ways to avoid the zombies, we understand the danger of failing. And because we understand the danger of failing we feel a burning tension.
Train to Busan combines the tense, terrifying zombie action with some light social commentary. There’s some class warfare here, and some commentary about how people really need to take care of each other, the impulse to look out for the self is not helpful because people can die. This isn’t breaking new ground, but it takes an optimistic approach here. It’s not yelling that once society breaks down everyone is out for themselves, it’s telling you that some people will do that and others will not. Even better, sometimes selfish people can change and care for others.
If you like zombies even a little, if you’re tired of the entire zombie thing, you owe it to yourself to check out Train to Busan. It’s an incredible motion picture.
You can check it out on services like iTunes, Amazon and more.
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