SEOUL STATION: A COMPANION FILM TO 'TRAIN TO BUSAN.' (2016) COUNTRY: SOUTH KOREA. LANGUAGE: KOREAN. GENRE: ANIMATED HORROR.
WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND CO-PRODUCED BY YEON SANG-HO.
STARRING SHIM EUN-KYUNG, LEE JOON AND RYU SEUNG-RYONG.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
'Seoul Station is a great place to visit, but you wouldn't want to catch a train from there...'
Remember TRAIN TO BUSAN, the humongous horror movie hit from last year? Of course you do. Who could ever forget it? Passengers on a train attempt to fight their way through a zombie apocalypse while trying desperately to either reach their loved ones or hold onto them, if they were misguided enough to allow them to accompany them on this roller-coaster ride into hell...!
The devastatingly handsome actor Gong Yoo, who seems to be South Korea's new actor heart-throb these days, played Seok-woo, a fund manager obsessed with his work who pretty much resented the time spent taking his small daughter to visit her mother, his estranged ex-wife, in the titular Busan.
As hordes of virally infected zombies crowd onto that one train, however, hell-bent on drinking the blood and tearing the flesh of every living soul on board, Seok-woo's forced to learn the hard way that there are some things in life that matter more than work and money. Like your family and friends, for example.
The whole film is a superb example of the modern horror genre. The zombies and all the bloodshed are fantastic, of course, but there's a strong human element to the movie as well. A really masterful film will have both in spades. If you're a fan of TRAIN TO BUSAN and, quite honestly, I've yet to meet anyone who isn't, then you'll love SEOUL STATION.
It's a companion film to TRAIN TO BUSAN, and it even serves as a prequel to it as well, describing the events of the day before that fateful day outlined in TRAIN. It's done by the same director, it's animated and, if anything, I nearly prefer it to TRAIN, that's how good it is.
If you're inclined to turn your nose up at an animated film, thinking perhaps that it couldn't possibly hold a candle to the live-action version, I'd hold my horses if I were you, haha. Give SEOUL STATION a chance and you just might agree with me when I say that it packs an even mightier punch than the live-action movie TRAIN TO BUSAN.
I love the story. It's every bit as emotionally engaging as the one from TRAIN, if not more so. A vulnerable young woman called Hye-sun, on the run from a brothel, is arguing with her loser boyfriend at the exact time that a nasty viral outbreak is beginning to rear its ugly head in and around Seoul Station, where a lot of unfortunate homeless people tend to congregate. Just like in the English horror movie CREEP, remember?
Anyway, Hye-sun quarrels with her boyfriend Ki-woong, who wants to pimp her out to solve some of their current money problems. The poor girl really finds herself in some sterling company, God love her. Ki-woong walks off in a huff. But there's an old man who's been left to die horribly on his own in Seoul Station who's been busy turning into a zombie in the meantime...
Hye-Sun and Ki-woong find themselves separated and desperately trying to reach each other while the plague of zombies spreads across the city terrifyingly quickly. To complicate matters further, or maybe it's a good thing, Hye-sun's father turns up looking for his runaway little girl. Suk-gyu joins forces with Ki-woong to find her in a city that's already running red with the blood of petrified civilians who literally don't know what's hit them...
This film is every bit as scary, tense and suspense-filled as TRAIN TO BUSAN and its being animated doesn't make it one iota less valid than its live-action counterpart. The animation is
utterly fantastic and the story never flags. It just keeps pushing us, pushing us, pushing us towards a climax that's even more shocking than the one in TRAIN, because there's one hell of an almighty twist near the end. I did not see that coming, I swear...!
There are so many stand-out scenes and great characters that it's hard to isolate just a few for your edification. The poor malnourished but gritty homeless man with whom Hye-sun finds herself teamed up against the zombies for part of the movie is a sad indictment against a society that would treat its homeless people so shoddily. He made me cry, he was so brave and so let-down by a country that was supposed to look after him and the people like him.
The big tough guy who seems to enjoy beating off zombies with a baseball bat is great fun. You can imagine some guys actually coming into their element during a zombie apocalypse, can't you? You can almost hear them saying how they'd never felt so alive while they batted away zombies to the left of them, zombies to the right of them, with their trusty weapon. It's mad. I personally would prefer to steer clear of the whole zombie apocalypse thing, altogether, haha. I'd rather stay safely at home with a nice cup of tea while the rest of ye get on with it.
The scenes in the police cell/cage are terrifying. So claustrophobic. I was also greatly spooked by the eerie quietness of the empty show-house in which Hye-sun finds herself at the film's climax. They reminded me of films where you'd have these crash-test-dummies living in fake homes on the site of a nuclear or atomic bomb testing zone. The dummies just sit there silently in their quiet houses and wait to be blown up. That whole thing just gives me the creeps, big-time.
This superb animated prequel/companion film to TRAIN TO BUSAN is out now on special release from STUDIOCANAL in conjunction with FETCH PUBLICITY. It's available on both Digital Download and on DVD and Blu-Ray release as well. It has a great little 'MAKING OF' featurette on it in which we actually get to see the voice actors at work, which is rather nifty.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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