Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan is easily the best horror / action film since Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. (I classify it as ‘action’ over horror, as zombies haven’t actually been ‘scary’ since 1968’s Night of the Living Dead.)
Seok-Woo is a workaholic living in Seoul with his young daughter, Su-An. It’s Su-An’s birthday and in an attempt to become more present in her life he’s promised to take her to Busan via train to visit her mother, only an hour away.
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By the time they get on the train in the early morning, the world is collapsing around them. People have become rabid and an infected passenger make it onto the train. Similar to 28 Days Later, people become infected quickly. They are both hyper-violent and fast, turning the majority of the carriages into a bloodbath before a small group of passengers are able to barricade themselves in first class. The characters of this film are believable and multi-dimensional, and the sparse use of CGI is expertly executed.
The claustrophobic feeling of this film is immense. As if being on a cramped train isn’t bad enough, walls of the undead collapsing over one another to take a bite out of you elevates this to new levels. This is a familiar zombie-film trope, the Zombies are an allegory for over-population and enchlophobia (a fear of crowds), which the film executes perfectly.
Though today’s Zombie films are typically a gore-fest, this film doesn’t feature nearly as much violence as your typical Hollywood faux-body horror trash. Instead Sang-Ho focuses on shocking his audience through both the will and sheer number of the undead—piling over one-another, falling in heaps out of windows to get to the living, and even trailing behind a train—to the point where I was saying to myself: “Oh f**k that. Seriously, f**k that.”