Directed by Yeon Sang-ho
Country: South Korea
This Korean zombie thriller flick is much more invigorating than many of its American relatives. Likely, a big production company already targeted it as a profitable Hollywood remake for a near future, and its writer-director, Yeon Sang-ho, is the one responsible for all the buzz and favorable outcome.
A prequel of this live-action adventure, entitled “Seoul Station”, was also released this year in an animated form.
Seok Woo, an extremely busy fund manager who doesn’t spend enough time with his daughter, Soo-an, reluctantly agrees to take her on her birthday from Seoul to Busan where her mother lives since their divorce. However, they get caught in terror when ravaging zombies quickly infest the high-speed train in which they travel. The pandemic is spreading furiously, triggering the national state of emergency, and the well-guarded Busan seems to be the only city that gives them an absolute guarantee of safety.
The claustrophobia increases onboard of the train as the spaces become narrower and the fear and paranoia take care of the passengers.
A few stops are made, some of them forced due to unexpected setbacks. The Daejon Station, for example, had a severe outbreak and massive wild attacks are being perpetrated by a bunch of spasmodic soldiers.
Seok Woo is not alone in this ghastly battle, though. There are other passengers who, carrying different energies, look desperately to survive and remain close to their loved ones. Separation impels this redeemed father to join forces with Sang Hwa, a brave yet sometimes-rude man who is also looking for his pregnant wife, and a teen baseball player who searches for his girlfriend. Still, there’s always someone whose selfishness only makes the things worse, which is the case of the wealthy CEO Yon-suk.
The story has enough emotional bates to firmly grab the audience, and Mr. Sang-ho proves he knows how to create suspense and appall us with rowdy and often spectacular situations of chaos, panic, and disarray.
I also have to mention that the characterization of the zombies and the bloody scenes are not overdone, as they normally are, while the screenwriter also throws in a strong sense of fate translated in a few occurrences where the characters benefit from being in the right place at the right time. One can expect interesting twists-and-turns along the way.
Even abusing a bit of the dramatic tones, this is a funny and somewhat eccentric ride onboard of a crazy train heading to a distant paradise called Busan.