There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Train to Busan
2020 Netflix Halloween Countdown
As crazy as it is to believe, it is already October 2020—it's been a bizarre year, for sure. For the past three years, I have been spending October watching and reviewing some of the spooky, scary, gory, chilling, and horror-themed movies on Netflix. With each review, I will include a table that ranks these movies from best to worst. This year will be my fourth year doing this, and I plan on publishing a new review each day. Some will be from movies that I have reviewed before, but there will be some new movies on here as well. So if you are looking to get in the Halloween spirit by watching some Halloween-style movies, then these articles are for you!
Seok-woo (Yoo Gong) is a successful professional but has little time to spend with his daughter. While the two are on a train to Busan on what seems like an ordinary day, a sick woman violently attacks one of the members of the train’s staff. The woman even goes so far as to bite her. If that was not crazy enough, the woman that was bitten then quickly convulses and starts attacking people. By this point, it is apparent that some sort of viral outbreak has begun making its way through the moving train.
The outbreak is not isolated to the train, however. Violent infected people are chasing, attacking, biting, and even eating people all over the city. Seok-woo and his daughter are among the fortunate who have found themselves in the right place at the right time. The train is far from safe, but the passengers are much safer here than in the city. However, the number of infected passengers is steadily increasing, and the threat is increasing with it. The train is on its way to its final destination at Busan. There is no way of knowing what is in store for the passengers at Busan, but they must find a way to survive on the train for as long as possible if they have any hope of surviving.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Train (+10pts)
Father & Daughter (+5pts)
The Ending (-5pts)
The Zombies (+8pts)
The Characters (-2pts)
Pro: The Train (+10pts)
This was such a fascinating premise. I have seen my fair share of zombie stories, but everything happening on the train felt unique because of two main reasons. One, the train is on its way to a final destination and there is no way of knowing what is in store for the passengers when they get there. Busan could be much worse than the city they came from, or it could be their salvation. There is no way of knowing until the train makes its final stop. This was so compelling because the characters are trying so desperately to survive when they know full well that it may be pointless.
The second reason the train was so interesting was that it was a zombie outbreak story but all about characters who were stuck in extremely close quarters. The threat felt significantly greater because there was really no escape. Sure, the passengers could move from one train car to another, but there is only so far the passengers can go while the train is moving. With each train car, the threat seemed to get more and more intense because the characters were stuck in the middle of a growing zombie outbreak with nowhere to go.
Con: Yon-suk (-5pts)
Oh, this guy was annoying. Yon-suk (Eui-sung Kim) was the classic example of a character that is used solely as a plot device. Any and every time the main characters had a handle on the situation, it was Yon-suk that screwed everything up. Whenever the writers had written themselves into a corner where the main characters had secured a train car or had a plan that would keep them safe, Yon-suk came in to save the writer's day. He consistently “inadvertently” ruins the plan and puts all the characters back at risk. The actor overacted a bit, but this character really suffered from lazy writing.
Pro: Father & Daughter (+5pts)
Individually, these characters got little to no development so they did not interest me. However, the story is made much more interesting by the simple fact of having this be a story about a father trying to take care of his daughter. It is not the most original concept, but it works. Everyone can understand the desire to look after a child even if they do not have a child of their own. Given the violent nature of the zombies and the innocence of the little girl, her presence will effectively make viewers root for the dad to succeed. The whole storyline of the dad working too much was pointless because it could not have been more typical but the daughter still serves her purpose by getting the viewers invested in the main character’s objective.
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Con: The Ending (-5pts)
The ending of this movie felt like a disappointment. There was not much of a plot to get invested in, so it would have been difficult for the filmmakers to make an ending that felt like it paid off. The plot of this movie was nothing more than survival. That was really the extent of it. As a result, there were really only two possible endings to this story.
One possible ending would have been for one or two characters to survive, the other possible ending would have been for everyone to die. There is really no other way for this story to end. Due to this, the ending was very predictable. There was no subplot to get invested in. Without that, the ending had to go with one of the two typical endings without adding any extra flavor from a conclusion to a subplot. This made the ending uninteresting and unsatisfying.
Pro: The Zombies (+8pts)
The zombies were so cool because they were so violent. These things can run, jump, and will attack violently. This, mixed with the fact that they are confined with our main characters on a train, made the zombies feel incredibly dangerous. At a certain point, the train becomes full of these things and the main characters have to find a way to go from train car to train car.
This was so fascinating because the characters had to find creative ways to get by them. Sometimes they fight, some times they sneak by, but it was always intense. The train was a cool concept, but the zombies on board created a terrifying situation that was impossible to look away from. The zombies were very effective at two things: creating an intense challenge for the characters to overcome, and creating intense horror for the viewers at home.
Con: The Characters (-2pts)
There was only one character that I actually liked. Sang-hwa, played by Dong-seok Ma, was the most entertaining character on the train. The rest were either too bland or exaggerated. For the bland characters, there was just nothing unique or interesting about them, so viewers will not care about them. Most of the characters in the story fall into this category. The teens in the school uniform, the old ladies, and the potential love interest for the main character all fell into this category.
There were a couple of characters whose actors overacted to the point where the characters felt so exaggerated they became almost silly. The homeless man and Yon-suk fell into this category. Regardless of which category each character fell into, viewers will not care about any of them. The characters are extremely underdeveloped and uninteresting, so they end up being nothing more than nameless bodies for the writers to potentially kill off. For any Star Trek fans out there, this was a movie full of redshirts.
Grade: B+ (86pts)
Train to Busan was a good zombie movie. It is in Korean with English subtitles, but I think it is really worth checking out, despite its issues. It suffered from lazy writing when it came to the plot and lazy writing when it came to the characters. There was almost no plot to this story. The characters had to survive. That was the extent of the plot, which would have been fine if the writers actually made us care about the characters. Instead, we get a poorly written plot with poorly written characters that are either uninteresting or exaggerated to the point of being silly. There was even a character that was used, exclusively, as a plot device to ruin things whenever the rest of the characters had a grasp on the situation.
The writing was either bad or lazy, but the film’s premise was strong. It was a pretty standard zombie outbreak story with the added twist of having the story take place on a moving train. There is a zombie outbreak happening all around the city and, just as the train is about to leave the station, one single infected person gets on. The passengers then have to find a way to survive with the knowledge that their final destination could be salvation or certain doom. This was a very fascinating concept and it was made to be incredibly intense by making the zombies fast and violent while stuck in close quarters, forcing the characters to find creative ways to get through. The movie has its fair share of issues but still ends up being a good, very intense zombie movie.
Train to Busan
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