Last night I finally caught up with the rest of the zombie-loving world and watched TRAIN TO
TRAIN TO BUSAN
TRAIN TO BUSAN works for a number of reasons. The premise is simple. The location is suitably claustrophobic. The characters are thinly drawn but likeable (and dis-likeable) enough. Given the subject matter, it would have been easy for director and writer Yeon Sang-Ho’s film to have been a cliché-ridden mess, but it isn’t. The film knows its limitations, and its makers know what its audience wants. And they deliver. And unlike big-budget balls ups like the awful WORLD WAR Z
The infected in the movie are given surprisingly little focus. Clouded eyes, black spider veins, blood and drool – it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The way they move is interesting, though, and their bizarre physicality give us a few genuinely unsettling scenes. But they’re never the focus, and are always secondary to the story. A couple of things illustrate the point I’m making here. First, have a look at the trailer again, eight seconds in. One of the main characters witnesses an attack, and it’s as indistinct and blurred for us as it is for her. Second, remember the Jerusalem Wall scene in the aforementioned WORLD WAR Z
I think the set-up of this movie works really well. The movement of trains can be conducive to action movies like this: rhythmic, powerful and linear. You go where the tracks take you, and that’s not necessarily where you want, or need, to be. This adds to the tension, because until we get there, we’ve no idea what’s waiting for our cast of characters in Busan itself. There’s a sense of inevitability here, of helplessness and being out of control, which adds to the mounting unease. The characters themselves are pretty stereotypical and bland – the distant dad and his daughter who’s desperate for him to pay her more attention, the high-school baseball team, the selfish corporate bad guy, the funny chap with his pregnant wife… but this is all okay because, again, the characters’ individuality (or lack thereof) doesn’t distract from the tension and the direction of the film.
All in all, I thought TRAIN TO BUSAN