It would appear that Train to Busan is generating a huge amount of momentum on the horror scene at the minute. It’s a breath of fresh air in all honesty as most of the coverage goes to big western releases, so to see both this and ‘The Wailing’ coming out of South Korea and causing a storm is great.
Train to Busan follows ‘Seok-Woo’ a divorced fund manager and failed father, who plans on taking his daughter ‘Su’an’ to her mother for her birthday. A theme that runs throughout the film is how out of touch at being a father Seok-Woo is, it’s clear that he doesn’t know his daughter well and has been a self-centred business man for some time. They board the train to Busan to start the journey….Sang-hwa and his wife are also aboard as well as a high school baseball team and one particular character that we will learn to hate a businessman named Yon-suk.
A woman who has a bite on her leg boards the train and quickly becomes a zombie, attacking those closest. The infection spreads fast, instantly taking over the host and turning them into the flesh hungry sort. The survivors manage to secure themselves in one of the cabins on the train, the zombies occupying the next cabin along. News plays from the television that an outbreak is starting to unfold across Korea but there are talks about secure locations for survivors to try and get to.
There are a couple of scenes that develop the plot further and also manages to thin the survivors out including getting off at a ‘safe’ station which leaves the gang either side of the zombies and whereby a rescue attempt ensues. Of course the train carries on to ‘Busan’ where it is believed to be safe and where the finale of the film unfolds.
What is evident by the end of the film is that characters have been developed in such a way that the audience willingly cares about them, in fact I can remember at least a couple of scenes where I was genuinely annoyed by how Yon-suk had acted, not even a dog-eat-dog mentality but completely abandoning all compassion and purposely placing the lives of others in danger to try and preserve his own……..what a snake! Sang-hwa is the standout character for me, he becomes the hero of the group making decisions and helping the team to build a ‘survivalist’ way of thinking.
As I have written a number of times before I am not a fan of the ’28 days later’ marathon zombies, they have strayed too far from what I consider to be a traditional zombie and as such have never really got on with, however this time around it just works. It compliments both the pace of the film and the environment that they are set in. Naturally with the pace of the zombies they tear through victims with a scary efficiency and the on screen ‘zombie gore’ including feasting on the living, is grisly.
There are a lot more action elements present in the film reminiscent of Hollywood blockbusters such as ‘World War Z’ but on a much, much smaller scale, on the whole these scenes are done very well although let down at times by awkward CGI and processing. I was a big fan of the train station scene where the survivors disembark at a ‘safe zone’ it does provide some tense times, looking beyond again some of the special effects.
I have read a handful of ‘edgy’ reviews which of course have suggested that Train to Busan lacks in depth but I disagree, admittedly it isn’t perfect, I personally felt it lost its way towards the end and could of potentially stream lined 15-20 minutes off the runtime but apart from a couple of niggles this is one of the horror highlights of the year. It’s well put together, polished and massively entertaining!!