Horror Movie Review: Train to Busan (2016)


Train to Busan is a South Korean zombie film that is one serious thrill ride. Filled with relatable characters, fantastic acting, shocking moments & incredibly terrifying visuals. This is a zombie movie that makes you proud of the genre again.

The movie opens introducing Seok-woo (Gong Yoo), a workaholic fund manager. He’s recently divorced from his wife & is struggling to be a good father to his young daughter Soo-an (Kim Su-an). Absence has created a rift between the father & daughter, highlighted by his poor choice of birthday gifts.

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Soo-an asks him to take her to Busan the next day to see her mother & after a little resistance he agrees to take her.

This is where the majority of the film takes place, on a train. Seok-woo & Soo-an board the train & we meet a number of other characters as they board & take their seats. We have the wonderful Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-seok) & his pregnant wife, Seong-kyeong (Jung Yu-mi). Young baseball player Yong-guk (Choi Woo-shik), the rest of his team & Jin-hee (Ahn So-hee) his love interest. Finally, there is Yon-suk (Kim Eui-sung) a rich CEO.

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There are plenty of more characters but these are the major players of the film, the ones that take centre focus as all hell breaks loose.

You see as the train departs Seoul a young woman manages to scramble aboard suffering from some sort of bite wound on her leg. Almost immediately she changes into a snarling zombie & attacks a train attendant. Within moments of the attack the train attendant also transforms into a zombie & it’s not long before the infection is spreading throughout the train.

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It’s chaotic stuff as these snarling, biting zombies spread through the confined space of the train. Many of the passengers (including the main cast) manage to escape to one end of the train & barricade the door. There they tell the driver to stop at the next station & watch in horror as the news reports outbreaks occurring across the country.

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When they arrive at Daejeon station the passengers disembark but find the station deserted with no sign of the supposed army quarantine. They make their way through the station towards the exit & find the army waiting outside. In one of the best moments of the film, the survivors make their way down the escalator only to discover that the waiting army are all zombies.

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Holy hell, is this one of the most horrifying & terrifying sequences of the entire film. The survivors desperately try to get back to the train but many fall victim to the horde. The ones that do manage to get back on the train end up separated at different ends of the train. Seok-woo is separated from Soo-an, Sang-hwa is separated from Seong-kyeong & Yong-guk from Jin-hee.

As the train continues to its final stop the three men decide to make their way through the train to rescue the people most important to them. The only problem though are the hundreds of infected standing between the two groups.

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Wow, just wow. Train to Busan is an absolutely rip-roaring, non-stop movie that has emotional depth, lashings of violence, plenty of gore & makes a spreading infection scary again. The speed of this infection is terrifying. Get bit on the neck & you’ll be one of them within 30 seconds, get bit on the leg or arm & you might just last a couple of minutes.

Once you are infected though, it is all over for you.

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These zombies are amazing, less about the walking dead & more about an infection transforming you. They run, jump & have no regard for their personal safety. Think the terrible World War Z zombies but without the rubbish CGI or massive scale. This is a kind of zombie on par with 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later.

The location, 80% of this movie takes place on a train, really adds much more to the scare factor. The confined spaces & the lack of sealable rooms or doors. All of these things designed to allow passengers easy access & comfort suddenly become huge problems when trying to escape zombies.

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The effects are fantastic, mostly make-up & practical but even the CGI blends seamlessly in. You won’t really notice when it switches to CGI, it’s used sparingly & only at times when there clearly was no other choice.

What really makes Train to Busan such a joy to watch though is the quality of acting. Every major player does a standout job here, it’s emotional & every death has impact. You’ll care about every moment, every development & every sacrifice. It’s incredibly dark at times but always with an air of hope even when there seems to be none left.

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Ultimately the story is about Seok-woo & Soo-an. A father doing everything possible to save his young daughter in the face of insurmountable odds. It develops wonderfully over the length of the movie & you want nothing more than for them to escape the horrors unfolding around them.

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Train to Busan is a fantastic zombie horror, one that will stick with you long after the credits have rolled. Watch this movie.

Train to Busan
  • 9.5/10
    The Final Score - 9.5/10
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