The film follows a man taking his very alienated daughter on the titular train to Busan to see her mother on her birthday just when there’s a breakout of zombies. That’s pretty much all the plot you need to know.
The film is situated firmly in an litany of recent and older cinema. It has that ‘something goes wrong and a confined space becomes a microcosm of society’ thing that one could see in works like Snowpiercer and High-Rise. It has a similar claustrophobia that one could find in zombie films like Dawn of the Dead or Day of the Dead, or even the last act of Shaun of the Dead. The zombies themselves seem like a perfect meeting of the very western history of zombies, and the eastern mythology of horror monsters as found in Ring and Ju-on: The Grudge.
It handles all of these very complicated and quite dense issues in a way that’s comprehensible and accessible. Given recent events these themes have never seemed so prescient.
The political commentary of the film is fantastic. What the film seems interested in is the refugee crisis, the way the media manipulates public opinion, the way big business has a hand in the way the media and government are run, and our modern economic situation. It handles all of these very complicated and quite dense issues in a way that’s comprehensible and accessible. Given recent events these themes have never seemed so prescient.
The film isn’t perfect, in terms of horror it’s very thrilling but when you want the payoff of exploitation violence the film doesn’t quite go for it in the way hard-core horror fans will want. There’s also some necessary but poorly done CGI.
However, the film is a very engaging, if not particularly scary, zombie action thriller with a great deal of intelligent satire. Train to Busan has plenty of brains and plenty of brawn and it’s really good fun to boot.
Image courtesy of Next Entertainment World