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I didn’t hear much of the buzz surrounding Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan until I watched one of my favorite horror movie reviewers cover it. Then I began to realize I had seen multiple threads about this movie and heard it name dropped frequently of late. I didn’t need a whole lot of reasons to watch a popular Korean zombie flick and decided immediately I was going to watch it this month. After Old Boy, The Host, I Saw the Devil, and A Tale of Two Sisters, I have a lot of faith in disturbing Korean movies and have yet to see a bad one.

Train to Busan is another excellent addition to this list. The story behind the film is as simple as the title implies — a busy, absent father takes his daughter on a train ride to the city of Busan and while they’re on the train it just so happens that the zombie apocalypse starts. Cue insanity.

If anyone is going to dismiss this movie it’s going to be over the fact that it’s a zombie movie. I can completely understand why anyone would be sick of zombies at this point. They can be a dull villain, because often no matter how much you mix it up they’re still just growling dead people who either run or walk and want to eat humans. You know what to expect out of any given zombie movie. If you absolutely despise this subgenre then chances are you’re not going to shed that point of view for a foreign horror movie.

Although I certainly experience zombie fatigue, there’s just something about them that I like even after the idea’s been done so many times. The first horror movie I ever watched was Night of the Living Dead and I’m still fond of most of Romero’s movies. For me, as long as there’s some new element added to the zombie concept, I’m into it.

I’m going to argue that there are two things that make the zombies in this film more interesting. The first is the confined environment. A train is a pretty linear setting and the movie does a good job portraying the chaos flowing through the train compartments. The confined space adds a somewhat interesting and new dynamic to the zombie story. It makes for some very cool scenes. The second thing is the actual look of the zombies. They’re not incredibly different, but their movements and appearances are well done. It looks almost as if they hired break dancers for the parts, seeing the way that they move.

I could potentially say there’s a third element that makes this film’s zombies worth it, but to be honest I didn’t find it all that intriguing. These zombies are blind in the darkness, which proves useful going through train tunnels. Eh? Eh.

The movie has a nice blend of silliness and drama without ever really dipping into being too horrifying or gory. There are some funny moments that are well placed and serve to break tension and also endear you to certain characters. The cast of characters, as I’ve found with all the aforementioned Korean horror movies, is fantastic. You slowly get to know them, learning a few traits to make you love some and hate others, and it’s done well considering there is quite a handful of characters. The daughter is absolutely adorable and doesn’t enter annoying child actor territory whatsoever.

The look of the movie is nice as well. The environment gives us some great contrasting colors, rich oranges and blues and grays and yellows. There are many scenes within this environment that are entertaining to watch. The zombies look great falling out of helicopters and pouncing off the ground, tumbling in a wave through the train in a way that speaks to World War Z but has a much better overall look. Some of the cooler scenes also are a bit silly, which is mixed in well and spread apart from the more dramatic action sequences.

One complaint I do have is how relaxed the actors are. There’s an enjoyable gradual build up of people discovering that the zombie apocalypse is happening, however the realization happens a little too slowly. It is ridiculous how slowly some people catch on to the presence of zombies in their train car. The actors don’t really scream and seem rather calm when confronted with the undead, which can be nice if you hate listening to the screaming.

What’s most charming about this movie (a horror movie? charming?) is that there are actually some nice family values carried throughout the story. Yes, it’s entertaining and action-packed, with some scenes that might make you gasp or slap your hand to your mouth, but the story still ended up being very touching and emotional. The ending moved me and I cared about the characters. Which is pretty shocking for a zombie movie.

This is one of the best zombie flicks I’ve seen in years, perhaps since the original [Rec], and I recommend checking it out even if you’re a little sick to death of the undead.

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October is here, Halloween is coming, and this means horror movies. Anyone who knows me knows that I love horror and watch films in the genre nigh constantly. For the last five years I’ve attempted to watch a horror movie every single day in the month of October, always unsuccessfully, though last year was my best yet — made it to 28 horror movies out of the attempted 31.

This year I’ve decided not to attempt this silly feat, however, this hasn’t stopped me from having watched some horror movies recently. I will also still attempt to watch a handful this month and perhaps I’ll throw up some reviews for them. Until then, I’ll briefly run through some recent watches and let you know whether I think you should bother seeing them or not.

For additional horror movie reviews and recommendations, I encourage you to check out my posts from last year reviewing my rapid-fire horror movie marathon: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. There’s an interesting mix of good, bad and mediocre to peruse there.

Darling (2015): Don’t watch it.

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A lot of people recommended this film because it’s artistic and aesthetic. However, the movie has the same issue as A Girl Walks Home Alone at Midnight — there’s very little substance, so it can actually be quite boring. How much do you want to stare at the lead actress Lauren Ashley Carter? That’s really your litmus test for whether you should watch this film, as that’s really mostly what you’ll be doing. This film also fails to be as compelling as A Girl Walks Home Alone. There are less characters and less variety to the setting. The plot is a descent into madness tale, which is extremely unoriginal as it is, and fails to follow through with various threads. Overall, the whole affair is boring, uninspired, and bland. Just watch A Girl Walks Home Alone at Midnight or a Roman Polanski film instead.

We Are What We Are (2013): Watch it.

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There’s certainly a lot of cannibal horror movies out there, but this one manages to be unique. The plot involves a family in a small town who lose their maternal figure and must figure out how to survive and move on while maintaining their, uh, lifestyle. The film keeps many aspects of their cannibalism — why, how, when, what they are — under wraps, and only addresses some of these questions by the end. However, the story unveils itself in such a way that the unanswered aspects work well in keeping you interested but not rolling your eyes. I didn’t like the way the ending played out, and there is some flash detective work that inevitably got my eyes rolling, but aside from this I very much enjoyed the movie.

Hush (2016): Watch it.

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Everyone’s been raving about this home invasion movie, which unfortunately is not exactly a good thing. This film is not as fantastic and revolutionary within the genre as most imply. The main character is deaf, which is the big gimmick that’s meant to add that extra intriguing dimension to this movie. Is it interesting? Yes, actually. However, in the end it never surpassed B-movie status for me. It just seemed like a well-made B slasher/home invasion movie with an interesting gimmick that only acceptably carried the movie. Nevertheless, I do think this movie is worth watching if you’re into slashers or home invasion plots, you will be entertained and perhaps even frightened, but in the end I can’t say this movie is exceptionally different or noteworthy compared to other entries in the subgenre, like The Strangers or Funny Games, for instance.

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