There aren’t many tricks left to pull out that can reinvigorate my interest in the zombie genre, outside of the movies from my past.The dead have been kept propped upright and shambling forward over the past decade based mostly on nostalgia, brand loyalty and gimmicks. Just last year we saw the Victorian period and a zoo and it’s captive (zombified) inhabitants and zombified woodland creatures, all tried, to varying degrees of success, to resurrect the sub-genre just a little. In other words, the zombie genres back is firmly up against the wall and the idea well is just bringing up buckets of silt and rocks and maybe your great great grannies Civil War-era dildo from the bottom at this point. Looks like there might just be a little bit of water mixed in with the silt and dildo’s however, as Train to Busan proves to have an interesting overall premise and some imagery we haven’t seen yet.
Train stars Yoo Gong as Seok Woo, a deadbeat workaholic father burdened by his responsibilities to his child and more so, his job. His daughter Soo Ann, played by Soo-an Kim, has only one desire on her birthday: to see her mother. Not really surprising considering dear old Dad managed to get her the same present for what appears to be at least the third time. She could have a couple more stashed in the closet for all we know. Point is, he isn’t getting a Father of the Year award anytime soon. His daughter is wise to all the issues that her father has as well, so she doesn’t seem at all surprised at this deadbeat move, commenting at one point that “You only care about yourself”, dropping knowledge bombs as to why his marriage failed. This must sting just a little as dad is spurred into action, committing to taking his daughter to visit her mother, via train, the next day.
Train to Busan doesn’t waste much more time getting to the good stuff, as quickly after we learn all about how dad sucks we board the bullet train and our zombie filled journey is underway. The incident is kicked off by one of the train attendants biting a a passenger, unleashing the zombie virus (or whatever they’ve deemed it in this universe, it isn’t mentioned) and thus begins the tubular mayhem we all came to witness. There aren’t many places that come to mind as being more horrifying to be trapped with ravenous hordes of flesh hungry creatures than a claustrophobic tube travelling 100 of miles per hour.
I think staging Train on a moving train, aside from being a necessity for the title, is one of the few original gimmicks I can remember being used since this zombie war of attrition really started to get going over what must be at least a decade ago at this point. The idea of being trapped on a speeding train out of your control is like being trapped underground, with no escape, but instead of the crushing weight of earth and darkness surrounding, you get the even more harrowing ability to see freedom from behind a couple inches of plexiglass but being unable to reach it. As with everything that’s come out since probably the eighties, there are a lot of recycled elements at play in Train to Busan. Recycled elements are nearly inescapable in horror, unless you really want to stir things up, but then there is no guarantee of success. Train introduces enough to keep it interesting while still going through all the familiar motions. One comparison that is near impossible to ignore is the similarities of the main character to Brad Pitt’s character in World War Z. Honestly, the only thing he’s missing is a kefia and possibly some better sponsor endorsements scattered throughout the movie.
If you dig on zombies you need to put Train to Busan in front of your eyeballs, as it’s likelyt the most original and interesting thing that will happen involving zombies this year, unless The Walking Dead suddenly pulls its head out of its current location, but that doesn’t seem likely does it?