Train to Busan leads train to my heart

Tyler Manning

Tyler Manning
Su-an Kim and Yoo Gong in Train to Busan (2016). Photo courtesy of IMDB

Fall is almost upon us, which means we’re getting closer and closer to one of my favorite holidays: Halloween. I feel that in preparation it is only appropriate to discuss one of my favorite recent horror movies — Train to Busan.

Train to Busan is a South Korean horror movie about a father and daughter trying to survive on a train taking them from Seoul to Busan during a zombie outbreak. If you’re looking for a short, non-hyperbolic sentence about what I feel about this movie, I would say that this is one of the best zombie movies I have ever seen and quite possibly one of the best ever made.

Every element of this film is executed with class, style and precision. I cannot think of an outstanding negative and was left in awe when the film ended. Rarely have I been so emotionally moved by a horror movie that I am left a sobbing mess, but this movie did that for me. For anyone who is a fan of horror movies or is looking to get into filmmaking, this is a must see.

One of the film’s greatest strengths to me is the incredibly well-structured and effective screenplay. The first 10 minutes of the film is an excellent example of how to concisely and effective introduce your main characters, the threat and the universe the film is set in. This is all accomplished with little dialogue and is rather done through visual storytelling.

At the opening of the film, we’re immediately introduced to zombies, moral weaknesses and a strained father-daughter relationship. The film shows us that the father’s moral weakness is his selfishness. He is a profit-driven person who neglects his family for work, causing marital problems and a cold relationship with his daughter. We see what this character needs to accomplish to better himself as a person, all just in the opening of the film. The audience is not bothered with too much exposition and is not told information that is inconsequential to what the film is really about — a man learning to be a better father.

This wonderfully crafted screenplay is only elevated by the beautiful guidance of the director. Another apparent strength of the film is the cinematography. The framing, lighting, color grading and blocking are all well done. The film is a visual treat and is hard not to watch. A lot of care, preparation and time went into making this movie look great.

Yeon’s directorial skills can also be seen in the wonderful acting of the movie. Every actor gives authentic performances. Usually child actors are hit or miss — they could either be really great or they could be really awful. However, the child actor in this film does a great job. All of the extras who played zombies also do a fantastic job as well. No single performance is bad. All of the cast members really holds their own in this film.

Overall, I cannot recommend this film enough. The concise, effective and structured writing, the beautiful cinematography and great acting all perfectly blend together to create a smart and engaging zombie thriller. Do yourself a favor and give this one a watch.

Rating: 9/10

Currently on Netflix.