Train to Busan (2016)
Director(s): Sang – ho Yeon
Writer(s): Sang – ho Yeon (screenplay)
Starring: Yoo Gong, Soo – an Kim, Dong – seok Ma
Damn this movie.
Wait, no; that was unfair.
The movie itself is fantastic wrapped around awesome and boxed in excellence but unfortunately for my pride, it tapped into the part of my heart that I adamantly keep under lock in key when viewing any horror flick. Train to Busan was by far the BEST horror movie of 2016 for me but it came at such a price; I had found myself biting my lip and feeling a pain in my chest by the time the movie ended and I was reminded that as entertaining as horror movies can be; with the right circumstance, style and characterization, you find yourself aching for the characters on the screen.
I’ve always been a fan of movies from various parts of Asia in various genres throughout the years and the unifying feature that they all share is their uncanny ability to ramp up the DRAMA. My goodness, Japan can make a movie about making corn cakes and by the end the movie you would agree the corn cake making is one of the most important jobs on the planet and that the main character is the greatest person alive and will have you sobbing by the third act because his corn cake cart was taken away by a typhoon (I should seriously start writing these down and make some decent coin)! This wonderful Korean horror flick is no different; you are thoroughly entertained but then realize that the drama is ramped up so high for each character. Sympathy and/or empathy begin to creep in and each action sequence becomes a nail biter because you want these people to succeed.
Here’s the beauty of Train to Busan; the plot is as simple as any horror flick; a father and his daughter try to survive a bullet train to the city of Busan after it has taken over by zombies. Simple enough, right? Now let’s delve a little deeper; the daughter resents her father because he is a workaholic who has a shaky moral compass and the reason they’re going to Busan is because she wants to see her mother again. Once they board the train, they meet a bunch of colorful characters which in most American flicks, is the part where I start to doze off and root for the killer(s) to get going already with the chop – chop or slash – slash. But again, let’s delve deeper; you have a large lovable goof who’s with his wife awaiting their first child, a young man who’s trying to play it cool with a gal who has an obvious crush on him in front of his teammates and elderly siblings who play more like an odd couple with their personalities. There are of course the stereotypes of old A – hole business man (HATE HIM WITH A PASSION OF A MILLION SUNS), spineless authority figure train conductor and mysterious drifter who knows about the impending doom but they all play good window dressing to the main story lines.
Once the train goes haywire with zombies however, these characters begin to develop their characters through survival. Once again, with the added dramatization that most Asian flicks bring to the table, each act of heroism, cowardice or survival gets accentuated ten – fold. The beauty of this movie is its ability to lay out what is exactly at stake for each character so by the time the zombies come in you are on the edge of your seat because the outcome would be emotionally wrenching for each story line.
As much as I praise this movie for its ability to tap in to your emotional core, this movie does not let up on the violence and action. The zombie style for this flick leans more towards the fast, voracious zombies from 28 Days Later than Night of the Living Dead but ironically the social commentary of rich vs poor, mob mentality and sense of entitlement ring true to the George Romero’s style of zombie movie. There are great moments in this flick where you question what you would do in a situation because you begin to see how humanity unfolds when put under pressure and you begin to feel intense sympathy and hatred towards those who pull on your heart strings.
You see the transformation of the main character from cold business workaholic to empathetic hero all because he realizes that keeping his daughter safe is his number one priority. The acting from all end s of this movie only piles on to the drama and by the time this movie ends you are reaching for the tissues, holding back the sniffles.
WATCH THIS MOVIE. Plain and simple folks, part of my duty as your FearTASTIC host is to wax nostalgic about movies that I love but also let you in to any discoveries that I may have made while writing these wonderful entries and Train to Busan is the kind of movie where you can watch by yourself and be moved or watch with a group…and hide your feelings in fear of vulnerability!
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.