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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.

Every October, I try to watch a horror movie every single day, like many people seem to be doing nowadays. I really like spooky, creepy, disturbing things (if you’ve been reading this blog a while, then yeah, well, that’s obvious). This makes October the perfect month for my obsession, as I can justify watching endless horror movies for no other reason than to make my life creepier. 

To be honest, after years of doing this I don’t think I’ve ever actually managed to watch thirty one movies during this month before—I think the best I’ve managed is perhaps 20, or 21. Which is still impressive! The thing is, I usually end up just going out to events like Prom of the Dead and getting sickeningly shit-faced while covered in fake blood, thus failing to watch horror movies near the end of the month. So this is my first installment of quick reviews of these movies, with a total of nine reviews on this list. I probably should have made it to ten for this, but I doubt I’ll make it to thirty one reviews, so I’ll just post what I have now and you can cross your fingers and cheer me on to waste my life some more.

October 1st: I’m Not Scared (2003) 

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Uh, so, I thought this was a horror movie because it has the word “scared” in the title. This turned out to be faulty reasoning. This is not a horror film. It turns out there was some time in Italy called the “Years of Lead,” in the 1970s, when terrorism and kidnapping were fairly common. This movie is set during that time, and deals with a young boy’s handling of a crime that he stumbles upon. Michele finds a boy chained in a hole in his village, and it turns out there’s nothing spooky forthcoming, just lots of disturbing plot, concepts, acting and history. The whole thing is actually pretty touching near the end. Even though this ended up not being a scary movie, it is disturbing so I’m going to let it count because I don’t want to have lost a day. My psyche was scarred. It counts.

October 2nd: Entity (2012)

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Although this was a horror movie this time, once again I was wrong with my assumptions. I guess I didn’t look closely at the cover and what I thought were grey-ish aliens were just Russian ghosts in potato sacks. Entity sounds like it might be referring to something science fiction, right? Eh, whatever. If you like ghosts…. you probably still wouldn’t like this movie. This was an awkward combination of found footage and actual 3rd person omniscient footage, which didn’t really make sense, and there were just endless scenes of the characters staring in abject horror at—something. I don’t know what really. The cameras never turned around to show what they were gaping at. At one point in the movie I finally concluded they were just gaping at scary sounds. This movie just made me angry most of time. And the guy who played Yuri, I guess he won some British award for Best International Actor—for this movie! Between him staring in horror and stuttering in fear/grief, I really don’t see it. The ending was okay…. I guess.

October 3rd: Inner Demons (2014)

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Okay. Okay, we’re getting better here. This movie was very entertaining—not a good movie per se, but definitely fun and amusing. I enjoy the Intervention style to the found footage, and it was fun to see the lead girl be possessed. Not entirely scary, unless you have a low threshold, but entertaining. The knight in shining armor character is a little annoying, but the ending definitely took me by surprise. I thought for a moment things were going to be romantic or something—yeesh—but then out of nowhere disturbing violence came and saved the day. Some of the characters are stupid and annoying enough to be highly entertaining, and it feels like this is done purposefully. So I recommend this movie as a lighter horror film.

October 4th: We Are Still Here (2015)

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This is a brand new horror movie, and I’ve been hearing the title alongside other 2015 horror names like It Follows and The Babadook. It’s an interesting film, with a rustic, cold setting and 70s vibe (I believe it is set in 1979). I wasn’t expecting the movie to have as much humor as it did—there were moments that were very amusing. Some of the acting of the townspeople is so typical of B-movie villagers giving exposition that I feel it must have been purposeful, thus making it funny. The movie is also surprisingly, and satisfyingly, gory. Not in a realistic way, but a fun Evil Dead bright red splatter-fest where you get to see some… interesting explosions. The plot has some confusing muddled parts however, and the ending left with me a lot of questions that I don’t think there are answers for. If you like a solid conclusion, which sometimes I want, then that can be annoying. However, an amusing, bloody horror film. Good for October!

October 5th: Spring (2014)

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This one was surprisingly different. Out of the five I’ve seen, I would say this has been the best thus far. I don’t want to say too much about the actual plot, because I went in knowing nothing and ended up being pleasantly shocked about what was going on. I think knowing little about this movie does help the viewing experience. I will say the whole movie has a dream-like atmosphere that’s actually touching, with appealing hazy, dream visuals. It’s written and directed by the same two that did Resolution (2012), a movie which I also enjoyed and had a similar different, grainy vibe to it. Ultimately, this film reminded me of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Midnight (2014) except a lot gorier with ten times the dialogue. Not a traditional horror movie by any means, but an actual good solid movie.

October 6th: Digging Up the Marrow (2014)

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This film seems to get a lot more flack than I think it deserves. When reading about it online, a lot of people expressed that they didn’t like it. I was intrigued by the concept (a man who insists there’s a world of monsters living under ours) so I planned to watch it anyway. The film is mostly made by the presence of the wonderful Ray Wise (of Twin Peaks fame) who plays the man who claims the monsters live under us. His insistent insanity and straight-facedness through it is humorous and off-putting. The interplay between him and the main douche is entertaining, and I enjoy that while it’s a bit cheesy, the scares do come as a surprise and get the heart racing. I saw comparisons of this movie to Creep, and I assume this is because they both are found footage horror movies that take a different approach with the genre. Of the two, I enjoyed Digging Up the Marrow much more. Also, the look of the monsters makes for a very Halloween vibe, making this a great movie to watch this month.

October 7th: Possession (1981)

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Well, I certainly didn’t mean to emotionally scar myself this month any more than I do normally, but turning on this movie today has forever ruined my psyche just a little bit. Especially for every time in the future when I reflect on it. This film really warrants an actual full review, but I’ll stick with brevity anyway, as this was viewed as part of my October horror movie marathon, and maybe I’ll touch on it again in the future. The reason I chose to watch this one today is because I’ve heard it spoken about as a horror movie classic, and up to this point I’ve viewed exclusively newer horror movies. This 1981 flick filmed in Berlin was a needed mix. This movie is on a whole other level compared to the movies viewed thus far, however. In Possession, Sam Niell hires the worst private detective ever to track his constantly screaming wife who wants to divorce him, while a coked out Slavoj Zizek stumbles around him and Niell’s poor son plays victim in the middle. There are scenes in this movie that made me cringe and plead for reason and sanity. My stomach sank. My brain recoiled. Actress Isabelle Adjani screamed her soul out, and then when her soul was gone she still somehow kept screaming. The scene with her in the subway, screaming and just…. whatever that was… truly horrifying stuff. Easily one of the most disturbing movies I’ve seen yet, especially since the allegory is clear and something that affects many people.

Also, I messaged my favorite horror movie reviewer (HorribleReviews) about this movie, and he replied with some comments on it and a link to a segment of his Video Nasties series that reviews this movie.

October 8th: Mercy (2014)

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And things just go down the shitter after that last one. I really did not like this movie at all. It’s based off a Stephen King short story, Gramma, not saying that’s why it sucked because I actually really do like Stephen King, but that’s where the story came from. The plot is corny, as King is want to do, and I just couldn’t stand either of the kid actors. The main kid’s attachment to his grandma didn’t make sense to me, as it only showed her protecting him from a rattlesnake—barely—at the beginning to establish their closeness, and then for the rest of the movie all he does is freak out about his grandmother and snap at his own family for not caring enough about his mean, crazy, evil grandma. I could barely even pay attention to the ending of this one.

October 9th: Kairo (Pulse) (2001)

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After yesterday, I wanted to watch a quality horror movie. I recalled this movie, having seen it countless times on lists of must-see Japanese horror films, alongside movies like Ju-OnRingu, Noroi: the Curse, and Shutter (which I’ve reviewed on here before). Having loved those movies, I was excited to watch this one. Getting into it, I was a little bored, but I tried to keep an open mind and wait for everything to hit me. But… that just never happened. There are hundreds of raving reviews from huge horror fans about this movie, so this left me puzzled. What the hell? Many claim this movie has one of the most well-executed scary ghost scenes of all time (the “wobbly ghost”), but even that barely caught my attention. This movie is a slow-burn, but unlike movies such as Noroi: the Curse, that burn never actually ignites into anything creepy or horrifying. The movie is very metaphorical, yes, and the metaphor is easy to understand, but the profundity of it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Back in 2001? Maybe. Perhaps. But the ghosts look cheesy, the leads act incredibly stupid and slow-witted, and the post-apocalyptic twist has poor build up and makes the movie strange, not creepy. This movie was a huge disappointment for me, and I enjoyed Shutter much, much more, and found that ghost movie to be far scarier. The concept behind this movie is somewhat interesting, but with the strange lead with his unbuttoned shirt covered in marijuana-looking plants, and the multiple bland characters who fade away, the whole thing falls flat. And never fails to be incredibly boring.


Well, that’s what I’ve watched so far. Only 22 more to go! Typing that out makes me realize that this is far too many movies. Jesus Christ. Stay tuned for Part Two.

I have heard through the grapevine (that grapevine being DreadIt) that when it comes to Asian horror flicks, the 2004 original Thai version of Shutter is incredibly scary. I am always eager and willing to watch Eastern horror for the reason that they often don’t focus so much on the slash and kill aspect, but rely heavily on disturbing imagery and psychological dread (excluding, of course, those fantastic Korean revenge films which are amazing in entirely different ways). The deaths are often more creative and strange, and I want strange when I watch a horror movie. Strangeness in itself can be pretty horrifying, when done right.

A new Instagram feature: Auto Ghost!

Unfortunately for me, I saw the 2008 American version of Shutter in theaters. While The Ring is arguably of equivalent quality to Ringu, and The Grudge is almost as good as Ju-On, the American version of Shutter (same name) stars Joshua Jackson of Dawson’s Creek fame and it is just absolute garbage. The plot is the same however, which means that going into the good version I already knew exactly what was going to happen. The end reveal is much better executed in the Thai film, so I feel as if I lost some of the unnerving jolt of it by already expecting it. The image was already in my head, so seeing the image lost some of its impact.

The film is very along the same lines as Ringu and Ju-On, meaning pale girl with long black hair creeping around and ruining everyone’s day, but despite focusing on this same trope, the scares do work. There are two particular images that are extremely unsettling. The first is a jump scare, an unexpected movement in a photograph, that is startling because it has you focusing closely on a small segment of the photo before the movement occurs. The second comes from a series of photographs, much later in the film, and the movement involved in this one has quite a creepy look that is just fun to watch.

The scares and imagery, then: fabulous.

The plot, however, has some strange holes.

The one thing that left me confused and distracted for a large portion of the movie involves the car accident that occurs at the beginning of the movie. The lead male Tun and his girlfriend Jane are drunk driving and hit a woman, and when weird things start happening, Jane believes they are being haunted by the woman they accidentally murdered. Things are not this simple, however, because there is another woman who committed suicide, and that whole story is the majority of the movie’s focus. So, what’s with the hit and run earlier? The second woman had already committed suicide by the time of the accident, so did they hit this woman’s ghost? I believe this event may have sparked Jane’s discovery of the Big Horrible Scene that occurs later in the film, but that’s my one theory. If anyone else has any other ideas about these seemingly two separate deaths, then I would love to hear them.

Shutter is a good horror movie and it makes you jump. Those into more hardcore horror may be unimpressed, but a fan of ghosts and the supernatural will surely find themselves scared.

To be safe, as a general rule of thumb, I suggest watching the original before the American version, when it comes to any movie. Even if the remake turns out to be good, at least you’ll go into the original blind just in case it’s not.

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