Sunday, January 29, 2017

TRAIN TO BUSAN is a thrill ride you need to catch!

The zombie genre is a funny thing.  The concept of the dead coming to life to feast on the living has been done to redundancy.  Every possible idea has been thoroughly explored on the big and small screen.  Ever since the first RESIDENT EVIL movie came out back in the olden days of 2002 there has been a nonstop wave of zombie films of all ranges of quality.  Some good.  Most bad.  Just when you think the genre is being laid to rest, another clever, well made movie or show comes out and inspires a whole new generation of movie makers to go out and make their own cheap knock-off.  SHAUN OF THE DEAD or THE WALKING DEAD are great examples of this phenomenon.  Now the WALKING DEAD's ratings are slipping. All the newly made zombie films are not getting bought up in film markets.  If they are lucky they might end up on Chiller T.V. or the SYFY Channel.  Yet just when you think the movement is over, here comes TRAIN TO BUSAN to reanimate the whole genre once again.  I don't care.  I like zombie movies and I really liked TRAIN TO BUSAN.  Even though I am a die hard fan of zombie movies, I think even the most casual fan of horror or movies in general will like this movie.  It is a bit unique.

The movie is about a father who is taking his daughter to visit his mother via the train to Busan.  He is a man consumed with work which has resulted in a failed marriage and a daughter who can't stand to be with him.  After getting on the train, however. zombies happen and now he is fighting along with the other passengers to survive and make it to Busan, possibly the only city on the route that is safe.

With its sharp focused shots, smooth camera movement and brightly lit and colorful cinematography TRAIN TO BUSAN stomps the trend of ugly and bland looking horror movies.  The subject matter might be grim but the film doesn't have to look it.  The result is that TRAIN is energized with life.  The film moves fast from scary moment to scary moment.  The characters are alive revealing who they are through their actions throughout the film.  The zombie thrills are spontaneous making it almost impossible to predict when the next attack will happen.  It is an exciting film through and through bolstered by the audience fear that their favorite characters might die.  You are going to care and have the 'feels' for these people.  Everyone is motivated by something whether it is the fear of dying or fear of the one you love meeting the horrible fate of being a chew toy for the undead.

The movie feels more like a disaster movie than a straight up horror film.  It is more about the characters surviving a cataclysmic event more than showing a bunch of gore and gross stuff usually associated with the genre.  The zombies are treated more like a natural disaster reserving them for the road blocks that our heroes need to either run from or come up with some desperate way to get past.  The movie is about surviving, not figuring what happened and trying to stop it.

TRAIN TO BUSAN's zombies are of the WORLD WAR Z variety.  They are fast moving, with the ability to jump somewhat, and seem to be motivated by the desire to spread the zombie plague rather than eat people for their flesh or brains.  People are treated like chew toys spit out before they can be torn apart allowing them to become fast moving double jointed zombies too.  It is rather mesmerizing to watch a character turn.  They kind of do some erratic Break Dance moves complete with the cracking sound of bones before going all grey eyed as they succumb to Zombitis.  They are scary screaming freaks that swarm like army ants.  Also it doesn't help that nobody has any guns.  That means when you are on a train full of undead crazies you are going to have to punch, kick, wrestle and use anything you can find to fend off the attackers.  They make killing zombies look so easy in THE WALKING DEAD, don't they?

Let me tell you my favorite part of the movie.  It is near the very beginning before all Armageddon breaks loose.  We are introduced to the real world troubles of a father trying to ineptly form a bond with his daughter who wants nothing to do with him.  When he is driving her to the train mentioned in the movie's title it is completely uneventful.  The quiet of a sleeping city is broken by the sounds of roaring sirens heading to a building on fire out in the distance.  We, as the audience, know that all hell is breaking loose all around them but the chaos has not yet broken their little bubble of what is left of their former lives.  They are unaware that they are running in a race of life and death as slowly as possible.  Even when boarding the train all the passengers do not realize the danger biting at their heals.  The tension is immense.  You just want everyone to get on that train as fast as possible and get the heck out of there!  Move, people!  Really great zombie movies have these wonderful calm before the storm moments.

TRAIN TO BUSAN isn't SNAKES ON A PLANE.  This is a zombie movie that you can't help but get emotionally involved.  It's funny at times.  It is heartbreaking at times but always exciting.  If this movie was made in America it would be treated as just another exploitation movie and given the obvious title of ZOMBIES ON THE TRAIN or LOCOMOTIVE OF THE DEAD or some other stupid title that is just a knock-off of a much more successful franchise in the genre.  No doubt there will be a North American remake starring Mark Wahlberg.  Ugh....


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