TRAIN TO BUSAN (FrightFest 2016)

PrintE-mail Written by Jonathan Anderson

Divorced businessman Seok-woo (Yoo) hasn’t been the best of fathers lately. He reluctantly decides to return his upset daughter Su-an (Su-an) to her mother in Busan. As they get on the train at Seoul, there are reports of violence erupting in the city. The train leaves the platform just as the chaos arrives and martial law is declared. Of course this isn’t violence – this is the zombie apocalypse Korean style – the result of biotech gone wrong. However, an infected person has managed to get on board, and that’s where the fun begins…

The zombies are gloriously over the top Evil Dead type zombies – jerking wildly, spasming like ‘80s breakdancers on the floor and rampaging through each carriage like a feral mass of teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert. The action sequences are incredible – straight out of a video game - and there’s palpable tension in every scene. This is the film that World War Z could have been.

After an ill-fated stop at the next station, it becomes clear the train must head to Busan at all costs. Think Snowpiercer with zombies, and Raid style action sequences, and a richly veiled layer of supporting characters that never allow the film to have a boring moment. The zombies can’t open doors, and can only attack what they can see, so there’s some amusing improvisation on the train, allowing brief respite from an impending, bloody death. As with any good zombie film – it’s often the humans you need to worry about, and Train to Busan gives us a bad guy for the ages, as well as some true heroes. But when there’s nowhere to escape, not everyone is safe.

Not just satisfied with dishing out the best zombie movie since Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, Yong Sang-Ho gives us layers of poignant drama here. The theme of the banality of evil is touched upon - a worker part of the offscreen 'biotech incident' struggles with guilt as he says 'we only do what we are told to'.

Relationships are explored - father and daughter, husband and wife, upper class and working class, showing us people’s true colours when confronted with extreme circumstances. (That colour is usually red and being splattered along the carriage floor.) Although by cleverly showing their vulnerabilities too, it's hard to simply judge them. One scene in the film concerning the actions of a disheartened older lady sent gasps and cheers through the packed Vue cinema screen at Frightfest, one of many iconic moments this film produces.

Forget snakes on a plane, Zombies on a Train is the best batshit crazy idea in ages and one the best zombie movies ever made.

TRAIN TO BUSAN / DIRECTOR & SCRENPLAY: YEON SANG-HO / STARRING: GONG YOO, JUNG YU-MI, MA DONG-SEOK, CHOI WOO-SIK / AN SO-HEE / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 28TH
 


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