So much more than just a zombie film
The South Korean horror flick has broken a number of records since its release, but is it any good?
Well, I’m pleased to report that the answer is an overwhelming YES, it’s incredible!
On its surface, Train To Busan appears to be a run of the mill horror flick – zombies attack people, those people turn into zombies and the audience is left to witness the protagonists battle for survival. It’s a familiar formula, which for some reason, never seems to tire with horror fans.
More specifically, Train To Busan focuses on Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo) a fund manager working in Seoul, who evidently hasn’t spent much time with his daughter, Soo-An (KIm Soo-Ahn). As a result, Soo-An requests to visit her mother in Busan for her birthday. With pressure from his own mother to restore their family, Seok-Woo takes his daughter to Busan via one of Korea’s KTX trains. However, just as the train is about to depart, an infected girl jumps aboard the train, quickly contaminating fellow passengers. The film then depicts how Seok-Woo and Soo-An will survive, along with other commuters.
Indeed, Train To Busan sounds all too familiar and to a certain extent is quite predictable, as is every other zombie film that has ever been produced.
However, what sets Train To Busan so far above any other zombie film is its emotional rollercoaster. Train To Busan is moving, touching and at times, provocative. What makes a successful horror film is its ability to immerse its audience to share the emotions and fear of its characters – Train To Busan is unforgettably engaging. Audiences will find themselves emotionally invested in the characters, which makes them vulnerable to the director’s unforgivingly brutal execution.
Yes, zombie films in the past have dealt with the issue of killing loved ones once they become zombies, but that attempt at an emotional dilemma seems almost childish compared to the issues touched upon by Train To Busan.
At times, you’re so heavily invested in the characters that you forget the ridiculousness of the film’s premise.
To a large extent, the moving nature of this South Korean film is somewhat unsurprising, considering the country’s notoriety in producing tear-jerking dramas. Nonetheless, I was surprised at how this was achieved in a zombie film.
Train To Busan is also much deeper than an ordinary zombie film and to a certain degree is actually a commentary on the lack of compassion plaguing society.
Would people show compassion in such a scenario (albeit a ridiculous one) or would they act selfishly? Is self-preservation a necessary evil for survival or simply a pure evil in our society? How damaging is having selfish people in society? Is empathy realistic? All of these are considerably deep topics, which Train To Busan makes you ponder until you’re reminded that you’re watching a zombie film.
So how has Train To Busan achieved so much from a zombie film? Perhaps its clever character creation is to be credited here. Each leading character plays an important part in not only survival but also in toying with the audience’s emotions, as each character faces conflicting emotional dilemmas themselves. Or perhaps it’s clever script writing or the powerful acting displayed by the actors. Or perhaps it’s an amalgamation of all of these elements.
In any case, Train To Busan is an incredible film that delivers excitement, anger and tears – even though it’s a film about flesh eating zombies.