Have you seen Train to Busan? If the answer is “Yes,” then proceed directly to the teaser trailer for its new spinoff below and read no further. I’m sending you a virtual high-five and one righteous fist-pump. If the answer is “No,” then I must ask you one more question: Why not?
My guess is that A) you don’t really watch too many international films, and you’re a little ashamed of this fact, but you recognize that life is a journey and there is no time to start like the present, or B) you are way too sick and tired of the ridiculous glut of zombie films stuffing your VOD queues. As far as excuses go, those are pretty understandable but also absolute weak-sauce.
Do me a quick favor and watch the trailer for Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (which, yes, is not the most inviting title I’ve ever heard). Don’t worry, there are no spoilers for the original film within — or, at least, there aren’t any you’ll recognize as spoilers having never seen it. Here’s the basic gist: four years after a zombie plague swept across the globe, the soldier Jung-seok scours for survivors in the wasteland. What he encounters are hordes of gnashing teeth and scurrying limbs, and the usual batch of a-hole uninfected humans succumbing to their most base desires. The plot is rote; the film is certainly not.
WHOA! Zombie cage-matches!! Yes, please, and thank you.
Director Yeon Sang-ho does not mess around. As you can see from the trailer, as well as in Train to Busan, he expertly replicates the propulsive, viral-like spread attack Marc Foster was attempting in World War Z. His creatures are beyond animalistic, gathering around each other like flakes of snow would amass into a snowball, or better yet, like those rascally meat-grinding Crites in Critters 2.
These zombies don’t stumble through graveyards. They sniff you out and transform into flesh-eating walls and towers in the process. For the first time in this particular sub-genre, you witness the horrific world where most of its population has mutated into ravenous graboids. Escape seems impossible, but if Peninsula is anything like Train to Busan, Sang-ho will take you right up to the precipice of despair and then suddenly pull you back with a little sprinkle of hope. Just because you’re a zombie movie doesn’t mean you have to be drenched in misery-porn.
Train to Busan is currently waiting for you on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Shudder, Tubi, and Hoopla. Its runtime is 118 minutes, a perfect length. The plot is as basic as the one for Peninsula appears to be. A jerkwad divorced father boards a train so that he can take his daughter to her mother’s place on her birthday. While the train speeds along, a zombie outbreak occurs, making his mission all the more difficult. Never before has there been a metaphor for co-parenting as apt, powerful, or painful.
Of course, the social commentary doesn’t stop there. Train to Busan navigates the conversation of class viciously, but without ever erecting its soapbox too high. Three years ago, our own Rob Hunter called the movie “more of a disaster film than a zombie flick” with strong ties to the human condition. Yeon Sang-ho stands neatly next to filmmakers like Jordan Peele and Bong Joon-ho following in the footsteps of George A. Romero. These kinds of films gotta bite in more ways than one.
Guys, the movie is one click away. Get on it and join our club of acolytes. We’re all trying to be better movie watchers. Train to Busan is here to help.