[Review] The first Korean Zombie Movie makes it look easy in ‘Train to Busan’
Author: Lisha Blackhurst
For the first time, Korea has turned its hand to the zombie apocalyptic genre, and what a superb entry it is. While it may not have many entirely original narrative elements to a savvy Western viewer, what is does offer otherwise is refreshingly welcomed – and that is hard to achieve in a world where the zombie genre is the most abused and regurgitated across all media platforms. If you wouldn’t class yourself as a devoted living dead fan, and I have admitted several times in the past that the genre has grown very tiresome for me with the rare exception, I urge that you see this; this is so much more than a zombie movie and the fun is infectious. I was lucky enough to get to see Train to Busan on the big screen, and boy am I glad to have endorsed this feature after some of the unworthy movies I have funded in the past, and it has since become the highest grossing Asian film in Hong Kong. If you are exhausted by zombie movies that derail from character development to focus on mindless gore, this may restore your faith in the genre.
The opening sequence treats us to the reanimation of a young buck that has recently become road-kill. The once deceased deer writhes and rolls, snapping back upright with manic clouded eyes with such sincere realism, and this is where we first see the incredible effects on the portrayal of the infected. This movie is entertainment; not ground-breaking in terms of story, but the train journey runs from engaging and hilarious to gruesome and heart-breaking, and is gripping from depart to arrival. The generic premise took a backseat to the gloriously crisp cinematography, outstanding acting and fast paced narrative. Sang-ho Yeon makes quick work of having us fall in love with the sincerity of the characters very quickly, and there is a comradery displayed between the cast that seeps authenticity. The young girl Soo-an Kim’s performance steals the show with her genuine emotion, and as the credits roll there isn’t a dry eye in the cinema.
The best horror film of 2016 by far, and the world will be waiting for the next Korean horror film to assure us that great films are still being created.
By Lisha Blackhurst