The horror genre is my least traveled and I’m certainly no big fan of zombie narratives (my favorite is easily Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead) but WOW and WOW, the South Korean film Train to Busan is completely insane and amazing and unrelenting in its awesomeness. What’s also excellent about the film is that I cared about the characters and became immediately invested in them, so by the time the harrowing finale was taking center stage, I had a lump in my throat and sweaty palms of nervous excitement.
Certainly inspired by Marc Forster’s visually stunning but super silly World War Z, director Yeon Sang-ho most notably borrowed the zombie-topple visual motif from the Brad Pitt blockbuster, but because this film cost roughly what the craft services bill was on WWZ, the filmmakers were able to go all out with the gore (something WWZ painfully lacked) and as a result fashioned a far more effective piece of nightmarish horror. Part of my enthusiasm for Train to Busan stems from not knowing much about it, never seeing a trailer beforehand, and having a generally low opinion and set of expectations for these sorts of items.
This really was a fabulous surprise and a further reminder to step outside of your cinematic comfort zone every once in a while. After premiering in the Midnight Screenings section of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, Train to Busan became one of the biggest films in the history of the South Korean box office.
Review by Nick Clement