I have a confession to make, one that I probably shouldn’t be going public with, considering my job, or one of them, is to write content for this site. Ready for it? I am tired of zombies. It’s true. I think zombies have been done to death—pardon the pun; I think zombies are a dime a dozen these days. Or, as my grandparents would have said, zombies have been run into the ground and broken off. That’s why it’s so refreshing when something original is done with the zombie genre. The South Korean thriller TRAIN TO BUSAN doesn’t really qualify as original. In fact, in terms of its premise, it’s pretty standard. Simplistic, even. Standard zombie outbreak. Zombies on a train. Nothing revolutionary. Is it possible, though, to take all the familiar tropes, all the generic, paint-by-numbers scenarios and render from them something so awe-inspiringly, devastatingly bitchin’ as TRAIN TO BUSAN? Why, yes. Yes, it is.
Take a cast of overall fine actors (including child star Soo-An Kim, who is AMAZING) giving solid performances and throw in some quality production values, and it doesn’t matter that you’ve seen this type of film before. You’ve never seen it done better. Yes, TRAIN TO BUSAN is THAT good. It is the best zombie flick since 2010’s THE DEAD. Before that, it’s the best since Romero’s original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Better than Fulci? Better than anything they’ve done in all those seasons of THE WALKING DEAD? Better—MAYBE—than Romero himself? Yes. Yes to all those. TRAIN TO BUSAN is pure excellence, a flawless effort. Fans who like decomposing zombies may be disappointed, as the ones featured in this film remain fairly fresh, but they’re no less scary because of it. Quite the opposite. The realism adds to the effect.