No genre has suffered from volume overload as the zombie genre. Zombie television shows, zombie movies both theatrical and straight to video, city zombie walks….zombies are everywhere. Because of the glut of flesh eating walking dead, no genre has suffered so much with overkill. Zombies themselves are not particularly interesting beasts. They don’t have any character. They just run (or slow walk) bite and run (or slow walk) again. You won’t find many reviews on the thousands of zombie films that will go into detail about the complex layers of the zombie’s inner mind.
With what seems like an endless parade of zombie films each week being offered across various platforms it’s a nice surprise when a film such as Train to Busan offers what feels like a fresh take on an exhausted premise.
Train to Busan is a South Korean zombie film brought to us from writer/director Sang-ho Yeon. The idea is commonplace – a zombie apocalypse is underway – but the setting adds to the drama. The movie takes place almost exclusively on a train where the passengers are stuck in in a speeding bullet. And when an infected individual boards the train, the group’s only safety will be in the various train cars free of the blood hungry hordes.
The group of characters that face life and death to zombie situations are an eclectic band of heroes and villains including a father and daughter team, a pregnant woman and her husband, a young teenage baseball team and various train attendants. Their survival is hanging on the notion that if the train full of zombies can reach the Busan station where the military is lying in wait.
Although there are plenty of been there/seen that moments in Train to Busan, the film still offers a fresh feel largely due to the claustrophobic setting. There are some fresh ideas – such as what happens to the zombies when the train enters into a tunnel – and these ideas coupled with zombies that run like Olympic qualifiers and above average special effects lead to a heart pounding rollicking good time.
One could not fully review Train to Busan without discussing the ending. Starting with an unexpected train crash the final few reels are filled with one surprise after another. And the ending is almost heart-wrenching in its execution.
Train to Busan is a thrill ride. A thrill ride that was a rousing crowd pleaser when it screened at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. But it is more than just a genre festival favorite. It is one of best zombie films every produced and might just be one of the best movies of any genre in 2016.