Just when you think you’ve seen all that the zombie genre has to offer, something like this comes along and blows you away. I had been told by a few different people that I needed to get to this and I’m glad I finally did. It’s been a while since a zombie movie drew real emotion out of me, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t getting misty at the end of this one.
When a zombie outbreak in South Korea infects a passenger trail, all hell breaks loose in the blink of an eye. You get just a few minutes of exposition before this happens, which makes it all the more jarring, just like a zombie experience should be. Sang-ho Yeon directs this with precision and a lot of skill. There is a ton of action for such a confined space and he handles it brilliantly, helping the audience feel every bit of fear that the cast feels. It is chaotic and claustrophobic, as the high-speed zombies have the people cornered on the high-speed train and the question of how to get off (or whether that’s even a good plan) is front and center.
Yoo Gong and Su-an Kim were incredible as a father-daughter duo fighting for survival amidst attempts at reconciling a fractured relationship. They are the emotional center of the film and also represent the balance beam of the movie’s moral compass, as it pulls in each direction. In this situation, saving yourself first is what makes the most sense, but at what point do you become the monsters you’re trying to escape from?
This was an excellent two hour look at humanity through the lens of something decidedly inhuman and I really enjoyed not only watching the thrilling ride but thinking about its deeper implications. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the comparison to our current climate, but it may take much more imagination to get off this train alive…