Monday, October 3, 2016

31 Days of Halloween 2016: Train to Busan

2016, Sang-ho Yeon -- download

OK, despite the massive amount of popularity at Rotten Tomatoes, this movie wasn't very good. It is pretty much like someone in South Korea (a Hollywood suit, transplanted) saw World War Z and said, "Do that, but here. And since Snowpiercer did well, do it on a train." And thus we get an incredibly boring zombie flick.

Now, I am not sure if the blandness was influenced by the incredibly bad sub-titles we got hold of, that alternated between the brain breaking "huh? whuh?" and pure-without-intent translations. I am not sure if there was a movie with some heart there; It's hard to judge bad dialogue if you are not sure if its getting across correctly.

Screeeeeeech. The sound of the needle scratching across the LP. If you are too young to know that reference, go Google it.

OK, stopped the movie and grabbed a different subtitle file. I was right; it is amazing how decently translated dialogue can change a movie. But I also believe it was the point in which I stopped, and then restarted watching. You see, I am familiar with the tropes of South Korea, and a lot of horror movies focus on them -- family, obligation, broken families, situations that stress the tenuous bonds. As I mentioned in my post about Hansel & Gretel, it just seems to almost always be at the core of a horror movie. And the opening of the movie just hits you over the head with them, but once accepted it starts rolling along.

Seok Woo is a director level manager in some corporation, a company with issues that always keep his attention. They call him a fund manager but his company is connected to the event, so it must be more. Maybe in South Korea, the stock investments in a company are managed by the company itself? Anywayz, he has always been distracted. It led to a divorce and leads him to be delivering his daughter to Busan, his ex-wife's home, for the daughter's birthday.  They are taking the train.

And a zombie deer (yup, evil dead eyed deer) escapes from somewhere. Which is followed soon after by a girl with a bite jumping onboard, while nobody is noticing. And a guy hides in the lavatory, babbling "all dead all dead all dead..."

Whirrrr-bzzzt-squeak-whirrr. The sound of a tape fast forwarding. Go Google it.

The survivors are gathered all over the train, scared and bloody as it makes it way into station where it will go out of service. The military is supposed to be waiting for them. Rescue! Instead, its deathly quiet. Seok Woo knows something is up, and a military contact has told him to avoid the quarantine at the main square. Good move! The military is infected! Back on the train! Marines, we are LEAVING !!

The movie takes on that whole mass of quivering, biting flesh seen in World War Z and runs with it, pun intended. It had a lot of fun having them smash through plate glass doors, out of windows crashing onto surfaces below only to get up running, broken and twisted. Of course, the survivors are picked off one by one, some sacrificing themselves as they each learn to give up more and more to help others. A little bit of Greater Good by Hammer metaphor.

It actually is a lot of fun, much more than I expected from that cliche filled, tiring, familiar and badly dialogued opening bit.