Film Review – Train to Busan (2016)

Workaholic Seok-woo attempts to re-connect with his kindhearted young daughter Soo-an by facilitating a birthday visit to her mothers. However, the bullet train ride from Seoul to Busan suddenly morphs into a completely different mission. One to protect their churning innards from a seemingly endless wave of hyper-kinetic, flesh-mental zombies.

As the outside world drowns under a tsunami of chaotic savagery, the passengers must link arms across social divides, and stave off the skin ripping hordes long enough to reach safety.

Train to Busan owned the Midnight Screenings section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and dominated this year’s Horror Channel FrightFest in London, where a legion of hardcore genre devotees, sitting in the heartland of horror cinema, claimed to have something in their collective eye.

Since then, this foot to the floor flick has gone on to smash through the 11.5 million admissions threshold domestically and gross $99 million worldwide.

With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that the picture flaunts a relentless mixture of visceral carnage and stringently executed tension. What is totally surprising is the astonishing levels of empathy the film engenders as a class war erupts within the already blossoming armageddon.

Brandishing an arsenal of impeccable acting, elegant character development and a rich vein of expansively brewed satirical humour, Train to Busan is hell bent on wringing out every last drop of audience engagement.

This not only marks a long overdue return to the kind of  Romeroesque wit that was once the lifeblood of the contemporary zombie flick – but the reinstatement of integrity and soul to the zombie genre as a whole.

Train to Busan packs the type of mammoth cinematic right-hook that demands the widest canvas available with the largest crowd possible. The eardrum-pummeling score and blistering sound design alone are worth the trip to the theatre, never mind the showroom quality visual effects and gorgeously fluent camera work.

However, it’s the glutinous humanity at the kernel of the film that will stick with you long after the credits roll.

Let’s be quite clear here, Train to Busan was not constructed for the critics – it was precision engineered for the fans. A commendable ideology that radiates from the epicentre of every glorious set piece, sly nod, and citation of zombie-law.

This genuine desire to forge a tangible bond with its target audience is what elevates Train to Busan above any horror picture this year.

Guaranteed to induce a lump in your throat one minute and have you punching the air with delight the next, this is not a movie that craves any endorsement from me.

The rapaciously predatory Train to Busan has more than enough gumption to hunt you down of its own accord.

★★★★★


Relationship Drama, Zombie Outbreak |South Korea, 2016 |Rated, 15 |118 mins|UK Cinema, limited release, Studiocanal, Oct 28th, 2016 | UK DVD, Studiocanal,  Dec 31st, 2016Dir. Sang-ho Yeon|Cast. Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jeong, Dong-seok Ma, Woo-sik Choi, Ahn So-hee