Train to Busan

Dir: Yeon Sang-ho

A very good, fast-paced, intelligent film which introduced me to a real genre crossover: South Korean tearjerker-zombie. Divorced father – a fund manager (another type of rapacious cannibal?) – takes his little daughter by train to her mother in Busan just as a zombie epidemic strikes. An epidemic caused, it seems, by the most profitable company in his portfolio. The film has several satirical  moments like this – my favourite was the call for more neckties to secure the compartment door against the zombies.

It was also surprisingly affecting: I was quite upset by the self-sacrificing ends of the father and father-to-be and their farewells to their loved ones, and I was on the edge of my seat to see if the old lady would make it back on the train. A strong moral tone – the fund manager learns the essential lesson of co-operation – and traditional in that it’s very much “women and children first” while men do the fighting.

What is it about zombie films? Why do we watch them? There’s something very dystopian and misanthropic about the genre, and I wonder if this is why we enjoy them. A film about our fellow humans trying to rip our throats out and subsume us into the unindividualised masses just like them – what do you think, Dr Freud?

But the genre does allow for some amusing juxtapositions: a train guard’s polite bow to the passengers while the first infected person slips on board.

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