Train to Busan

While a zombie virus breaks out in South Korea, passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan.

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ 

First of all, let me just have a moment of glee at having a mother-daughter bonding moment with my mother that involves zombie movie. My beloved mama has never been a fan of horror movies, and she certainly isn’t one for zombies (she hates the noises they make when they groan and eat; every time anyone tries to watch the Walking Dead in the house, she’ll put on her headphones and watch YouTube videos of Adele or Fifth Harmony), but she watched this movie with me when she heard the title since Train to Busan has made the news with its record number of ticket sales and movie watchers in Korea (and steadily climbing with the rest of the world).  Although to say she watched it would be misleading, since about 90% of the movie she watched through her fingers or holding one of our chihuahuas in front of her face to block out the icky zombie munching bits which made up a large part of the movie.

Anywho, I’m the horror fan (as made clear by some of the horror books I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve enjoyed reading) and I was pleasantly surprised by this film. Korean horror movies in my experience aren’t big on the gore that we see in Hollywood films; they’re the kind of films they go for the horror that comes from ghosts and subtle mind-fucks that go a long way to rack up the scare factor in people. But Train to Busan, did not shy away from the gore and damn are these zombies rabid in this movie. They’re also damn fast, which as me and my mother joked probably had something to do with the fact that they are Korean zombies and Korean people tend to always be on the move and in a hurry (and no that’s not stereotyping the Korean people or being rude; my mama is Korean and I’m half Korean and I’ve spent summers in my childhood having long visits with my family over there so I’m pretty familiar with how things are).

The movie doesn’t wait long to hint at what’s to come at the beginning. A minor character hits a deer because he was busy trying to reach his cell phone in the passenger seat then the road (a lesson to all that your focus should not be on driving and not on your cell phones). Surprisingly the deer isn’t too mangled up from the encounter although it gets killed (I suspect perhaps it’s because the deer was hit with one of those small work trucks that are common to see around Korea), what is surprising (although not by much because it’s a zombie movie), the deer gets up off the road with a few creaking noises and then you see it’s milky dead eyes. It’s uncertain if Bambi is patient zero because the beginning has indications that some company had a chemical leak which explains that the zombies of the film are the result of man’s scientific endeavors and bad manners to not be more careful of the things they are doing.

The story moves along to focus on our main characters, although they are really part of a small focus group of main characters, but to me, they seem to be the most important ones. Seok-woo and Soo-an, are father and daughter, who’s relationship is strained by the fact that Seok-woo and Soo-an’s mother are divorced and he’s always busy working. Because the following day is her birthday and he’s been really bad about paying attention to her (hint birthday gift issues), Seok-woo promises to personally go on the train with Soo-an to take her to see her mother in Busan (they live in Seoul), although Soo-an feeling like she’s not important to her father and wanting to see her mother reassures him that she can by herself.

Anywho, the shit hits the fan when the train leaves the station, or actually a little before. Because a zombie-bitten teenager sneaks onto the train and we see a “fight” in the train station with people watching. In reality, it’s a zombie trying to attack and no one seems to have quite clued in on this at this point. Soo-an gets a hint when she the train station employee on the platform get tackled by a zombie as the train pulls away. But always returning to the infected teenager, it doesn’t take long before the zombie virus kills and reanimates her and then she starts attacking and spreading the infection. It quickly becomes clear death or a bite close to the heart seems to cause the zombies to come back quickly. A majority of the passengers become infected (because we have a lot of stupid people who just sit there in shock until they get attacked; believe me there was a lot of yelling at the computer screen from me and my mama over this) and locked into separate cars then the survivors. The survivors also realize that the zombies stop attacking when they don’t see living humans so they quickly do what they can to block the zombies’ view, smart movie since the doors between train cars is made of some kind of glass like substance that won’t last long with a lot of rabid zombies pressing on it.

Anywho it’s on the train you meet the other important people, a homeless guy who also snuck on another part of the train about the same time as teenage infected who is already traumatized by what he has seen, a married couple expecting their first child, two elderly sisters best described as the older sweet country mouse sister and the younger cynical city mouse sister, a high school baseball player and a cheerleader with a crush on him (they come with a team and coach but obviously those characters soon get bitten and turned sometime in the movie) and an complete selfish asshole man who cares nothing about others but only of his own survival. Now Seok-woo is a bit selfish in the movie, however, I see his selfishness as a father who’s scared and doing whatever he can to protect himself and his child and not wanting to risk their safety to help others; however because of Soo-an’s sweet nature and need to help others he changes to help those in the main group and try to be helpful of all survivors.

Now I won’t see any more of the movie and who survives and who doesn’t. I’ll leave it as a well-developed zombie flick. You know or at least the movie provides a very good reason why zombies have popped up. You get that the virus spreads because of people mistaking zombie attacks as people fighting or rioting (if you’ve watched the Korean news, you’ve seen that this sort of thing happens frequent enough to make the characters in the movie think that way). The virus also spreads because hey, a tiny peninsula with lots of people jam-packed on it. The movie shows the best and worst of humanity because you have one small group working as a team to try to survive the best they can and then you have the selfish and the end results of that behavior. Overall I really enjoyed the movie and I suggest that if you’re a zombie fan, that you should see it, especially if you have Netflix because I don’t know how long Netflix will keep it viewable online.

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