Train to Busan was one of the most successful films of 2016. A huge part of its success can be credited to the filmmakers who were not afraid to take a bold approach toward the zombie genre. With their efforts, the movie opened to huge box office numbers and raking in over $99 million during its run. It also went on to be the only 2016 film to cross the 10 million admissions mark and received positive reviews from critics.
Over the years, audiences have seen a number of zombie movies. So what made Train to Busan so different from them all? ExploreTalent rounds up the top reasons below.
Train to Busan: The Best Zombie Movie of the 2010s
1. The zombies are not the film’s biggest monsters
If there is one thing Resident Evil and World War Z have in common, it is that the zombies pose as the biggest threat to mankind. At the surface, the same thing can be said for Train to Busan, but as the story progresses, a certain character starts to display an even more sinister side. The selfish CEO Yong-Suk would stop at nothing to get to a safe place, even if it means seeing innocent people die. In one particular scene, he feeds his comrades to the zombies in order to save his own life, painting a rather cruel image of humanity.
2. The entire film is claustrophobic and eerie
Train to Busan may start off slow, but it quickly progresses to a fast-paced and tension-filled environment. Director Yeon Sang-ho used an aspect ratio of 1:85:1 during filming in order to emphasize the claustrophobic nature of the train. It gives audiences the notion that the protagonists are bound to meet an impending doom as they navigate through each wagon.
3. Superb acting
It is uncommon to see badly acted zombie movies, seeing as most filmmakers focus more on action rather than the character development. But Train to Busan chooses to be different. This is a movie that features great acting, particularly by three of the main characters.
Gong Yoo, who plays the main protagonist Seok Woo, is an absentee father who is trying to mend his relationship with his young daughter. Another is Ma Dong-seok as Kim Soo-an, who steals the scene every single time he is onscreen. He does drama, comedy, and action so flawlessly, he became one of the movie’s biggest highlights. Lastly, there’s Kim Eui-sung as the antagonist Yong-suk, who happens to be a cold and selfish individual who is far worse than the zombies.
4. Steers away from zombie clichés
Zombie Hollywood movies typically involve a group of survivors that move to different locations to try and survive. But as the name implies, the majority of Train to Busan takes place in the train, which only heightens the tension level of the film. The zombies are pretty unique as well as they weren’t just written to be slow, brainless creatures. Instead, they reanimate to fast killing machines that stop at nothing to lock down on their prey.
5. Thought-provoking themes
Some zombie movies end up being as brainless as the zombies themselves. But Train to Busan contains themes such as the importance of retaining our humanity at the face of crisis, as well as more personal themes that revolve around family and friends.
Will all that’s mentioned, hopefully Train to Busan is a step to toward the right direction for zombie films; and hopefully, more filmmakers come up with more innovative ideas in the future as well.