I feel that I owe the cast and crew of em>Train to Busan an apology. Way back in early 2017 this movie went on sale for a surprisingly low 99 cents on Google Play. I bought it of course under the rationale that almost any movie is a good deal for that price. Then I just never got around to watching it. The movie sat in my Google Play library as I purchased other (and watched) other films month after month. It wasn’t until I began preparing for the current season of The Witching Hour that I finally sat down to watch it and – wow! This movie is amazing! I regret not watching it as soon as I bought it.
Train to Busan is kind of a big deal in South Korea. It happens to be one of the highest grossing movies in the history of that nation and quickly became a horror fan favorite all over the world. Considering that the movie came out fairly recently (2016), I will not post any spoilers here. After all, you really should watch this movie for yourself.
Actor Yoo Gong plays Seok-woo, a business executive who focuses a bit too much on his work. All of the time he spends working has damaged his relationship with his young daughter, Soo-an (played by very talented Su-an Kim). Seok-woo’s negligence of his daughter is demonstrated when he buys her a video game console for her birthday without realizing that he bought the exact same system for her earlier that year. Soo-an wants to go to her mother and begs her father to take her to the city of Busan. Seok-woo begins to realize that he has failed his daughter and agrees to ride with Soo-an on a bullet train to see his ex-wife. Other notable passengers include a married couple expecting their first child soon, a young team of baseball players, two older sisters and a homeless man who is repentant for the state of the world. As it happens, there is some kind of outbreak spreading throughout the nation of South Korea and an infected person manages to get on the same train just before it departs.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the zombies in Train to Busan. They fall somewhere between the infected in 28 Days Later and Day Z. And yes, they are zombies – the even use the word “zombie” in the subtitles though to be fair I am not sure if that word is used in actual spoken dialogue. They’re fast little buggers too – surprisingly quick and agile. The zombies move in a disjointed and unsettling manner and there are so many of them! The producers certainly did not skimp when it came to hiring actors to portray the zombies. One shot even has a zombie moving despite having suffered major body trauma. I am kind of curious if they found an actor who could dislocate his joints as it is quite a sight.
The infected are not particularly bright. They have lost basic problem solving skills such as opening a door but they are relentless once they manage to get through. Oddly enough, they need to be able to see their prey before they will go into a murderous frenzy and in the darkness they are almost immobile. While the film does not explore this it seems that this is a rare breed of monster where it would be safer to encounter them at night.
Many zombie movies tend to portray humans as just as bad as the monsters – if not worse. That is certainly present here as the body count on the train continues to rise and the survivors begin to separate into two groups. With that said, the story remains very fast paced and focuses on the zombies. The story of Seok-woo and Soo-an provides a sense of humanity which contrasts well with the vicious appetites of the infected.
If you are in the mood for a fast paced and highly suspenseful zombie flick, I highly recommend you check out Train to Busan. Don’t worry if you do not speak Korean. It has subtitles on Google Play and Vudu; I presume the subtitles are present on other versions of the film as well.