Seok-woo (Yoo Gong) is an always busy fund manager who recently divorced due to the fact he spends so much time at work. While he loves his young daughter Soo-an (Soo-an Kim), he’s so focused on work he sometimes forgets to pay her the attention she deserves. It’s the young girl’s birthday and all she wants is to see her mother who lives in Busan. Seok-woo books them on the KTX train and they board, ready for their visit. What they weren’t expecting was a young woman to board the train who was bitten by something. She quickly falls ill and she transforms into a zombie like creature who begins feasting on the other passengers. Whatever this girl is infected with is contagious and it quickly spreads throughout the train. A small group of survivors which includes Seok-woo and Soo-an as well as Sang-Hwa (Dong-seok Ma) and his pregnant wife Sung Gyeong (Yu-mi Jeong), a high school baseball team, and a selfish business man. The promise of sanctuary in Busan is their only hope and they must band together in order to stay alive.
I have no problem saying that TRAIN TO BUSAN is one of the best zombie films made over the last decade. It takes a premise we all know so well and transports it into a moving train. Instead of just having the zombies just run rampant and slaughter everyone (they still sort of do), the film takes its time to build character, allows the audience to get to know the people who are about to battle the infected. In a short span of time, you quickly get invested in these people, what they do, and how they react to the situation. At the core, we get to see how the relationship between father (Yoo Gong) and daughter (Soo-an Kim) evolves. It starts out rather distant but as things happen and the mayhem escalates around them, their relationship shifts as well. As someone who spends countless hours watching horror films, I tend to have an abundance of nightmares/dreams and zombies are almost always present. I’ve had a couple of very intense dreams involving zombies and having to protect my daughter, so this particular theme really hit home for me.
TRAIN TO BUSAN is actually a sequel to writer/director Sang-ho Yeon’s animated film SEOUL STATION released shortly before. The zombies in the film are almost like a cross between the traditional Romero zombie and the crazed infected of 28 DAYS LATER. The film is bloody and a bit gory but it never takes things too far. At nearly two hours, it moves with expert pacing, building suspense and tension that drives you to the edge of your seat. The acting from the entire cast is top notch and convincing with characters you grow truly fond of (or ones you want to beat the living shit out of). The movie makes you feel something and it’s no easy feet. TRAIN TO BUSAN will frighten and move you, it takes you places you may not want to go but the ride there is exhilarating.