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  • Gareth Crook

Train to Busan (2016)

Zombie film. Surely there’s too many of these. This one though I’ve heard is rather good. Not snakes on a plane, but zombies on a train. Bear with me... We’re in Seoul, Seok-woo and his young daughter Soo-an are heading to see his ex-wife, who lives in Busan. Even as we leave Seoul, something isn’t right. A sky-rise on fire, partial reports of a leak at a plant. We know zombies are imminent having seen a deer reanimate in the opening scene... looks really cool actually. The train pulls away, but not before one of these now human zombies that we’ve half spotted in the periphery gets on board. Seok-woo isn’t the most attentive father and falls asleep as their journey begins, leaving his inquisitive daughter to roam the train, just as things are getting weird. Now let’s get to the point... are the zombies any good? Well yes, yes they are! They’re quick, coming to life in bone cracking yoga poses, all snarly, rapidly covered in convincing looking blood and the camera cuts are choppy at breakneck speeds. Add lots of flesh ripping and screaming and we’re on the right track, so to speak. It quickly becomes clear that life outside the train is a bit buggered. Zombies everywhere, standard apocalypse. Thanks to YouTube clips viewed on phones and a government news broadcast on the trains TV, urging people to stay home to remain safe (that sounds familiar), the passengers realise the scale of the situation and panic accordingly. So we’ve a microcosm of society on board, half the train infected, half okay. Separated by a barricade of luggage, a door and the zombie stupidity at not attacking because they can’t see their prey. If that were it I’d say this film was in trouble, but an ill-advised stop does manage to rid the train of a few zombies, provide respite for the now few survivors and add some meat to the back story bone. It’s here too that the film takes on a disaster movie tone. There’s a plan now. Back on the train, there are people trapped in random cars and toilets, including Soo-an now separated from her frankly quite useless father. It gets a bit more inventive and this is accompanied by some of the characters stories getting fleshed out a little more... but only a little. It does look cool, there’s some great sequences, gory, tense and the characters although a bit one dimensional are good enough to carry it. There are clear favourites you want to root for and those you can’t wait to be zombie fodder. I think though that I was expecting more and expectations are always dangerous. If you like zombie films, you will love this, but if you’re after something a bit meatier, this I think comes up short. Su-an Kim, as the young Soo-an really is the stand out. Some of the other performances are good, but she brings her A-game and really is the glue that holds it together. A good zombie film is always worth a watch and this is, but it’s only that, a good zombie film, nothing more... but that zombie deer in the opening scene really does look cool.



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