Ahhhh. The sun shines again. The flowers bloom once more. The inevitability of entropy has been held off for another day. Why? Because The Bride of Anubis and I (Anubis) have been favored by fortune with Train to Busan – a movie that we both now love more than our own children… who are actually just a pair of apparitions that came with the apartment and won’t stop whining about how they can’t rest until blah blah blah. I don’t know. We stopped listening after the first week.
How do you do something interesting in the zombie/outbreak sub-genre when everyone and their Uncle George has been making ghouls-gone-wild the topic of their terror ever since the damn things first came to get Barbara? Park Joo-suk, possibly after playing a demo for Resident Evil 0, discovered the angle that would make his outbreak flick stand out: put it on a train. It could do for infectious mutants what planes did for snakes!
Aside from the setting, the recipe is a simple “viral outbreak turns infected people into violent killers whose sole purpose for existence is to attack anyone that ISN’T infected and spread said virus as fast as possible” (see 28 Days Later, I Am Legend, etc) and includes the mandatory group of mismatched survivors brought together by horrifying circumstances and forced to work together in the hopes of surviving an seemingly unsurvivable apocalypse scenario. In the interest of keeping this short, I won’t go into extensive details about the movie’s cast of characters, but I will say that it’s probably one of the better fleshed out and established posses of human protagonists in such a movie that I’ve ever seen.
The train gimmick is used to great effect, giving the setting a claustrophobic vibe while literally keeping it moving at an action movie speed. If you took the hordes of fast, rabid, swarming mutants from World War Zand shoved them into Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, but replaced Steven Seagal with a handful of LIKEABLE people, that’s the best and briefest approximation I can give for Train to Busan.
It’s not a perfect movie, though. If you’re a nitpicker like yours truly, you’ll find aspects of the ghouls that are inconsistent (their bodies don’t mend, but when they’re dropped from 60ft they can just get up and run like nothing’s injured?) and poorly utilized (they need to see humans to attack them, but at the same time they’re utterly blind amid mood lighting?), and you may shout colorful language at the illogical choices of some of the lower-on-the-cast-listing characters. But, if niggling things like that don’t poke your figurative ass like a legion of miniature Ash Williams clones wielding eating utensils, then be prepared for guaranteed pathos and tension and feels!*
*Results may vary. Not a guarantee.
Four-and-a-Half Mr. Conductors out-of-Five
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