In the last post, I talked about THE HOST and I stated that I would follow up with my experiences watching Train to Busan. Firstly I’d just like to say that I am a fan of the macabre sense of humor that both of these films share. When a recently deceased deer cracks back to life after being run over I know I’m in for a good time.
This film feels like one part mission impossible and another part Evil Dead and it is easy to see the influence of western cinema on this film but it somehow manages to stay fresh and engaging. The zombie genre is often trite and perhaps it is just refreshing to see something original but I think there is more to it than just a new idea. Zombie films at their core evoke the fears of the societies that they are made in. I found this great video essay about zombie films that I thought I’d share.
This is now one of my favorite zombie films and I would be curious to see how the Genre is tackled in other cultures given that it has historically been Americanized. Perhaps it was just seeing the survivors story from a Korean perspective but the film was captivating from start to finish, a big part of my engagement with this film is how invested you become in the story of the main characters, this was the case watching the Host but I feel like it is more relevant here. The special effects are fantastic but you never feel as if the story is being compromised for spectacle. The Family unit appears to play a major part in Korean Horror films thus far and I would be interested to see how these values exist in Korean culture. my experience of western horror films specifically in the zombie sub-genre often features strangers who are often at odds with one another working together to survive. The film takes a lot of moments to breathe and lets the characters develop and my enjoyment of this film derived from the human element.
I appreciate that the film added new dimensions to the Zombie mythos while keeping them fresh and interesting, by having the Zombies distracted by the passing lights of the tunnel the filmmakers managed to make the formula work in a lateral direction.
I liked that baseball players were a major part of the plot and I was aware going into the film that it has gained popularity as a pastime in Korea when it comes to bludgeoning zombies to death (or at least back to death) it is best to use the weapon of your national sport (see Shaun of the dead)
I was caught off guard by the use of martial arts in this film the characters all seem like quite proficient fighters during several of the scenes and I wonder if this is a trope that is enjoyed by Asian audiences or if I am just generalizing. my experiences of western zombie films often involve the main characters haphazardly fighting off the horde so it was kind of interesting that Train to Busan made all of its characters such ass-kickers despite their backgrounds.
Some concluding thoughts.
This film is incredibly well made and I’m interested to consume more Korean cinema specifically action and Horror. I’d like to research how it was recieved regionally in other parts of Asia as well as internationally to see if the film or films like it have the chance to become box-office heavyweights in the western market because for my two-cents it’s one of the best zombie films I’ve seen in a long time and I hope more like it are made.