There’s something about watching a movie I’ve already seen before or reading a book I’ve read over and over again that feels like that moment when you throw on your favourite sweater and curl up in bed; it feels like comfort. When life as we knew it stopped earlier this year and our lives became full of uncertainty, I and many others felt drawn to the comfort of knowing what was going to happen in the form of films, series and books from our past.
2020 had people re-watching all sorts of tv shows and films, from the tv classics such as Friends and Gossip Girl to the nostalgic perfection of the tv series Avatar: The Last Airbender which had a resurgence in popularity on media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok as it was added on to Netflix this year. I too found myself re-watching more and more books and films. Among them, the 2016 South Korean zombie action/horror Train to Busan would have to be one of my ultimate favourites.
The movie takes place almost entirely on a train ride from the capital city of Seoul to the southern city of Busan with very few scenes of the devastation taking place in the outside world. The focus remains on the internal dynamics of the characters on the train and the character developments as they attempt to survive till the final destination and make sense of this new reality. The characters represent various social roles and divides from the wealthy to the homeless, young to old, a father to be and an emotionally negligent father.
The budget of this movie in comparison to the Hollywood zombie movie World War Z (2013) is also worth noting. Both of these movies focus on a zombie apocalypse and while one uses the exorbitant budget of $190 million to film in various countries and emphasise the scale of the destruction, the other uses a budget of $8.5 million and manages to not only capture the necessary action and thrill of a horror movie such as this, but it has moments of humour in it and still pulls at the heartstrings of the audience and is able to deliver a more impactful and emotionally deep film which left many – or at least myself – in tears several times.
The perfect combination of horror, action and character growth lead this to be one of those films that I find myself watching again and again, especially when the outcome is known, unlike that of our current world.
The sequel Train to Busan: Peninsula was released in July of 2020 and is set four years after the events from the first film. The film is labelled as a sequel however none of the original cast from the first film make an appearance so one could consider this to be a stand-alone zombie film. While it did appear in theatres briefly, it is not yet available to stream online.