I saw Train to Busan trending on Twitter, because apparently there’s going to be an American remake. The praise for the original Korean version prompted me to check it out. And it is really, really good. Uncommonly good.
A lot of horror stories don’t work for me. The ones that do usually have powerful character work or social commentary. And Train to Busan has both.
The action of the movie facilitates the protagonist’s transformation. He starts as a man used to looking out for himself, as an absent father who loves his daughter from an emotional distance. His journey takes him from encouraging his daughter to be selfish, to taking risks for people that’ve taken risks for him, to a final reckoning that leads him to the result of everything he’s been. There are scenes where he ends up seeing his past behavior in a different light or facing a mirror of his past actions.
Where his character’s journey ends up feels very right to me. It’s the culmination of what he’s done that he can’t take back and the growth he’s exhibited over the course of the movie. Even though it’s not spoken, we can feel him tangling with all of his regrets once that moment comes for him.
As for the social commentary, some of it translates–the treatment of certain people as expendable is pretty universal–but this is a Korean film, so I’m sure there’s plenty that’s going over my head. It still feels cohesive from my Western perspective, but I don’t want to talk too much about it without the appropriate context.
Overall, Train to Busan is definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.