These are not genres I willingly and knowingly delve into as I am not party to their sole aim which is to scare me shitless. However, this year I decided to dabble in the halloween spirit with a smile and at least watch something that could be classed as spooky. Why? Because for the first time I heard about a Korean film that I could watch on the big screen right here in good ol'Manchester. And although I was assured it would be a film sure to make me jump and scream, I knew from my short - but now quite extensive - experience watching Korean TV shows, the melodramatic factor would be such that even I wouldn't want to close both eyes...maybe just the one.
And I am beyond pleased to report that I was not wrong!
The South Korean thriller, Train to Busan, directed and written by Yeon Sang-ho (Seoul Station; The King of Pigs; The Fake) that has taken the world by storm is now my favourite horror film ever. The story begins as Seok-woo, a fund manager who does not know when to clock-out, takes his saddened daughter, Soo-an, one morning from their home in Seoul to see her mother who is in Busan via the high speed KTX (Korean Train Express) only to find the assumed uneventful journey mutate into one filled with adrenaline and gore.
Bringing humanity, social class and the validity of media vs what you see around you to the foreground, Yeon Sang-ho's 'Train to Busan' does not fail to keep you sat firmly in your seat rooting for your favourite characters to make it out alive despite the terrifying rate at which their futures are threatened by an apocalyptic end. The series of events shown paired with a beautiful and eerie soundtrack, cool blue tones and the most flexible set of zombies I've ever seen had me hooked as soon as I saw that deer.
To say the visuals, special effects and acting were on point is putting things mildly. The film was not just well made it was well told. There isn't a shortage of well-written and brilliantly portrayed characters that quickly and firmly pull you through the horrifying scenes that unfold at an incredible pace. Gong Yoo (The Age of Shadows; The Suspect; Silenced) stars as the Seok-woo, a man who will take care of his own at any cost; Kim Soo-ahn (Memories of the Sword) plays the young Soo-an who was gifted the worst present the world could give a child; Jung Yu-mi (Manhole; Our Sunhi; Silenced) and Ma Dong-seok (Chronicles of Evil; One on One; New World) play the compassionate couple Sung-gyeong and Sang-hwa who are determined to raise their child in a caring place; Ye Soo-jung (The Tunnel; The Thieves; The Epitaph) and Park Myung-shin (Illusionary Paradise; Broken; War of the Arrows) star as two elderly sisters In-gil and Jong-gil who still care for and are loyal to one another; and Choi Woo-sik (Big Match; Set Me Free; Secretly Greatly) and Ahn So-hee (Single Rider; Hellcats; Heart to Heart) bring a whole knew meaning to classmates having each other's backs; and Jung Suk-yong (Beating Again; Hero; Miss Korea) who stars as the ever kind train conductor.
Train to Busan is an poignant horror film that makes you question if you could make the ultimate sacrifice or if you would be content with only looking ahead of yourself and living with the inevitable blood on your hands. If you have the chance to see this film do. And if my ramblings above have not convinced you then maybe check out the trailer below. Like I said, I am not one to watch horror films but this is definitely one that I could watch multiple times...with at least a 6 month gap in between though.