Reviews: Train To Busan

Mixing the Good and the Bad of Zombie Movies

Train to Busan was sold to me as a zombie comedy movie. This in hindsight was a blatant lie; Train to Busan is a typically sober zombie apocalypse movie. It is also sometimes quite funny, whether by accident or on purpose.

The premise is that a zombie outbreak occurs in South Korea, just as our heroes have boarded a long distance train. These happen to be the actually dangerous, fast kind of zombies that tidal wave into people. The infected manage to board, and so we have a battle to keep them from travelling down the length of the train to infect yet more humans; a sort of apocalypse movie bottle episode. Train to Busan gets a lot of points for originality early on, with the small scale scope of the premise and the choice of setting. Also, the survivors seem to be relatively intelligent about how to deal with the situation, almost straight away taking advantage of the fact that the zombies turn placid once they can't see anyone.

Unfortunately after the first act, the movie resorts to old archetypes and turns everyone into idiot stock characters. We have the typical "is that survivor bit/infected?" paranoia scene, which doesn't work at all when the infection visibly zombifies people in a matter of seconds. There is also a greedy coward CEO, a saintly kid that needs to be protected, a manly blue collar man who is doomed to die despite being the best equipped to survive etc. etc. It lost me after about the fourth heroic sacrifice, which is a shame, because this movie does endeavour to show you a lot of creative ideas. For instance, at one point we see a gang of zombies form a human snake, allowing themselves to be dragged along the rails behind a moving train like something out of a Three Stooges Movie.

It's not a waste of time, but you shouldn't be super eager to see Train to Busan either. Outside of moments of brilliance like the above, it is a fairly standard zombie movie with all the most annoying zombie tropes kept intact.