This Korean made zombie movie has had a ton of hype and good press behind it. So much so that it’s getting a sequel and an American remake. Thankfully, even with all that, I still hadn’t heard anything about the movie’s plot, so I go to go into it completely fresh. Before I get into the actual review which might have a couple spoilers let me just say that it is really goddamn good, lives up to the hype, and you should go watch it right now. It’s on Netflix, for Pete’s sake. No excuses.
Anyway. Train to Busan is a zombie movie that takes place mostly upon its titular means of locomotion. A father is taking his daughter on her birthday to go see her mother, his ex-wife. He is a hedge fund manager and starts the movie off as being more worried about money and looking out for himself than doing what is right by his child. Wouldn’t you know it; right when they get on the train out of town, the zombie apocalypse breaks out because of some chemical spill. Now it’s up to him to protect his daughter from the monsters that are both inside and outside the train.
The movie focuses on the father/daughter relationship but is also an ensemble cast, as most good zombie films tend to be. They spend a lot of time really focusing in on what it means to be a good person as well as what it means to be a good father. We even get a contrasting human to show how the father might have been if he hadn’t turned over a new leaf for the sake of his daughter. The COO of a corporation serves as the main non-zombie antagonist as he embodies all the worst traits that the father once showed (selfishness, deceit, using others, etc.). In addition to the father/daughter, it also manages to get pretty much every other kind of relationship squeezed in there; siblings, married couple, dating teens, mother/son.
In addition to the focus on human relationships and bonds during a time of crisis, Train to Busan also has some seriously incredible looking effects. The actors they got to be zombies must be some pretty well trained hip hop dancers because the jerky moves that accompany someone turning into a zombie are so creepy but also just so goddamn impressive. I appreciate that, for the most part, the movie relied on practical effects outside of a few crowd shots for the zombies. The actual train itself makes for a great setting as you have this simultaneous ability to get away from things but still be trapped. It makes the movie have an intensity to it that so many modern zombie movies lack.
I tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible because this movie is getting a 5 out of 5 from me and I highly recommend you watch it. There is enough there that even people that normally don’t like horror can still enjoy it.