It feels like Train to Busan has been in my Netflix queue for well over a year. I have not heard a single negative word about it, just never carved out the time. I know if I watch something at home that I am prone to multitasking; which would make anything that involves subtitles near useless to watch. Then I happened to see a review or recommendation that likened it to World War Z, the book … not the movie. While I am not a big reader, the book made quite the impact and not so much the movie that followed. So since it is Halloween season and I am missing Hocus Pocus in our city’s Movies in the Square tonight due to a cold, I figured it is only fitting.
I would give it 7 “zombie deer” out of 10.
FOR THE UNINITIATED
The movie is centered around a fund manager and his daughter’s journey to see his wife / her mother for the girl’s birthday. The journey coincides with an outbreak of an infection that turns the victim into a zombie. Very quickly the train’s inhabitants are turned into zombies leaving a small pocket of survivors. As the movie progresses the survivors have to fight and outsmart zombies in addition to other survivors who are more concerned with their own lives and security.
The action and suspense are phenomenal thanks to the setting, characters, and music. As the story starts up, we learn about each of the characters through their small interactions. The sniveling COO and the father both start out calling their connections to get them and it slowly builds tension. When the train first stops and the father learns that quarantined area has already been overrun just before his daughter is saved by the same man he almost locked in a train car with zombies. Then the COO attempts to have the train take off without everyone who stayed behind to hold off the zombies, which leads to the father / baseball player / and soon to be father getting separated in the middle of the train. Soon they learn the daughter and mother to be are trapped in a bathroom several cars away and need rescuing. That is when the story ramps up and the action takes the center stage. Throughout the movie, the other big concern is the COO who is constantly doing everything he can to survive at the expense of everyone else.
The movie should have ended several times leaving the fate of the characters unknown. That would have trimmed the the third act down, which seemed to drag on much too long. Aside from the movie lasting bout 30 minutes too long, my biggest complaint is the zombies. Their ability to crash like a wave several times got old after the first time, especially since it would crest higher than the zombies could jump. While the night blindness was unique, the ability to suddenly sense the living once they were out of the darkness was unnecessary. They would only bite their victim once to turn them … except when they would consume some of the main characters when the story called for it.
The majority of Train to Busan was a fantastic zombie movie, even if their zombies were uninspired. There weren’t any guns, knives, or anything of the sort that turned it into a zombie killing movie. It was more about survival and how people react when put in those situations. There was a little bit of The Mist, Snowpiercer, and Dawn of the Dead … so if you liked any of those you should do yourself a favor and watch this one.
The movie I think is closest in spirit to Train to Busan would be The Mist. It isn’t so much what the mcguffin monster is, but the people turning on each other. The dynamics between characters is what drives most horror movies and both of these are prime examples. I would recommend The Mist over Train to Busan … but just slightly. Both are worth watching and it is the season for spooooky movies.