Mar 21 2017
Among the sub-genres in horror, my least favorite is the zombie movie. Most of these zombie movies end up looking the same since the story line cannot deviate much from zombies chasing humans and attacking them to create more zombies. The Korean film Train to Busan also does this but does a few other things as well to show that there is still life left in the genre after all.
As in most films in the genre, we get an opening scene with an infected deer to tell us that something is afoot. After that, it doesn’t take too long for the story to kick off as a diverse group of passengers board the titular train(the film’s only dab at humor comes here as it misdirects us into thinking that some hanky panky is going on in the bathroom but it turns out to be something completely different). A last-minute boarder is already afflicted and since anyone who is bitten by a zombie turns into one real fast, it doesn’t take long for the train to be filled with zombies intent on attacking the few remaining humans.
The film creates a central group of characters that we care about. Some of them, like a little girl Su-an and a pregnant woman Jung yu-mi, are designed to be vulnerable but others like the Su-an’s dad Seok-woo(he is taking Su-an to her mother), the pregnant woman’s husband Sang-hwa, two sisters and the members of a baseball team earn our sympathy through their actions. So there are some surprisingly emotional scenes as some of them become victims. There is also the token bad guy who acts in some pretty nasty ways at the expense of others.
But zombie movies are mainly about the chases and action as the humans try to escape their attackers and Train to Busan has some good ones. The train provides an interesting setting as the things it provides(like glass doors at either end of each car, the bathrooms, the tunnels the train passes through) are used to stop the multiple zombie attacks from feeling repetitive. A couple of stops at stations help provide additional set pieces as the crowd of zombies smash through windows and glass panes to continue their attack. There is also a well-picturized train crash at the end. The characters ensures that the chase scenes are thrilling and the fact that we do not know who will survive makes them suspenseful.
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