Setting a Zombie film on a train (from Seoul to Busan) is a genius move, it’s a new spin on a genre which is swiftly becoming unoriginal. With such a setting the whole feeling of the film becomes claustrophobic and hectic seeing as there’s not much space to run and hide in a moving vehicle. Also considering the fact that the film is set on public transport most of the characters are unfamiliar with each other outside of the people they are travelling with, this then separates the good from the bad and we quickly warm to the strangers who band together and help each other out and we grow to hate the selfish characters (namely Kim Eui-sung‘s villain Yon-suk) that compromise everyone else’s safety for their own.
Having seen Gong Yoo in the fantastic drama Goblin I was very much aware of his proficiency as an actor but from watching Train to Busan I was yet again impressed as I didn’t expect the film to become so emotional. Gong Yoo’s Seok-Woo started the film off as a relatively unlikable guy, a divorced workaholic with very little time for his young child but through the trials of trying to survive a mass zombie apocalypse, he slowly becomes the hero that you root for. In a way his character development reminds me of Alan Grant’s in Jurassic Park (disliked the kids to begin with but became a hero and saved them and became a father figure to them in the end), he is a man who absolutely has no time for others and is put out by his own child in the beginning but by the end of it he has become somewhat of a model father to his daughter. It’s in creating this character juxtaposition that makes the journey you take with Seok-Woo all that more investing especially at the conclusion of the film.
However, I do have one criticism of the film and that is the particular sequence involving the tunnels and the darkness it creates as this was something that was used in Snowpeircer another Korean film. It was still a cool sequence but having seen it used before it didn’t make as much of an impact as it would have if it were an entirely new idea.
Overall I really enjoyed the film and I was pleasantly surprised that the film had such an emotional depth to it to the point that I actually cried at the end which is something I have never done when watching a Zombie film.