M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Six of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2015 and going through September 30, 2016. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on July 22, 2016. Available on DVD, BluRay, and On Demand from WellGo USA Entertainment! Also streaming on Netflix!

TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016)

Directed by Sang-ho Yeon
Written by Sang-ho Yeon
Starring Yoo Gong, Dong-seok Ma, Woo-sik Choi, Yu-mi Jeong, Sohee, Kim Soo-ahn
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here

Every year there’s a film that proves that there’s life in the old reanimated corpse that is the overspread subgenre of horror dedicated to zombies. This year TRAIN TO BUSAN is that film.

Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo ) is a workaholic father who agrees to take his daughter Soo-an (Kim Soo-ahn) to see his estranged wife/her mother who lives in a neighboring city of Seoul, South Korea. As they board a bullet train, a passenger boards the train suffering from some kind of ailment. On the news, reports of a viral outbreak are ignored as people go on their day to day, so the last minute board isn’t thought about until she collapses, spasms, and awakens as an infected dead—ready to bite and spread a contagion from one train car to the next as those uninfected fight from car to car for their survival.

So yeah, it’s SNOWPIERCER with zombies or ZOMBIES ON A TRAIN instead of SNAKES ON A PLANE, but what this film did is remind me of why I love zombie movies in the first place. For one thing, there isn’t a self-referential, annoyingly ironic tone to this film as many modern zombie films have. This is a straight up zombie film that is occurring all over the Korean country (and most likely the world, but we aren’t made privy to that in the world of the movie). We see snippets of the outbreak at the beginning, some rushing police cars, and some reports on the news, but what makes this compelling is the personal story that takes place within the zombie outbreak. It’s the story of a disconnected father who plays the role of caregiver without really knowing what it takes to do so. Gong Yoo is great as the absent dad who is all business and connected to his cell at all times with clients, too busy to see his marriage crumbling and his daughter crying for attention. Through much of this film, the choice is made between what is good for oneself and what is simply heroic. It’s a strong and universal theme, broad enough to work in any situation and applied to this bleak scenario, it’s works amazingly here. The role of the self-centered vs the heroic is exemplified by different characters here as THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE WEIRD’s Dong-seok Ma plays a noble husband protecting his pregnant wife. His character is often put into contrast with Gong Yoo’s to show just what the businessman/father is doing wrong. Dong-seok Ma’s presence is formidable here and I hope to see more of this gruff and buff actor in future films. These characters are painted with broad strokes, but serve their purpose to tell as story of what to do and what not to do as a parent.

But stealing the show is little Kim Soo-ahn, who plays Soo-an, the adorable little girl caught in the middle of this mess. This little kid is a hell of an actress and the main reason I was pulled into this movie so deeply. At such a young age, she is able to express emotions that will break your heart into pieces and those who don’t shed a tear during the emotional climax of TRAIN TO BUSAN might want to check for a pulse.

The zombies themselves are not exactly original, but presented in a way that feels fresh and new. These are fast moving zombies, but twitchy and oddly moving due to their animalistic mannerisms and disregard for the damage done to their bodies in their pursuit of prey. The film also borrows a bit from WORLD WAR Z, showing the zombies moving in a mass. It’s not as over the top as the zombie wave, but much subtler, and therefore more effective, as the zombies move like ants, clinging to one another to catch a speeding train or clumping together to move en masse in close quarters. This gives them an otherworldly feel that many zombie movies lack and the seamless CG helps immensely in making these zombies formidable and scary.

Strong performances, tight effects, a strong linear story structure, and treating old material in a fresh manner makes TRAIN TO BUSAN the best zombie movie of the year. You’re not sick of zombie movies. You’re sick of zombie movies that are redundant and suck. This is definitely not one of those movies. Seek out TRAIN TO BUSAN, it’s an emotional rollercoaster and a downright horrifying trip into dark undead territory.

Click here for the trailer!


THE 2015-2016 COUNTDOWN!


#7 – TRAIN TO BUSAN
#8 – THE FINAL GIRLS
#9 – THE SHALLOWS
#10 – MASKS
#11 – KRAMPUS
#12 – AVA’S POSSESSION
#13 – BODY
#14 – THE WAILING
#15 – THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE
#16 – MORGAN
#17 – DEATHGASM
#18 – 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
#19 – DER BUNKER
#20 – DECAY
#21 – EMELIE
#22 – NINA FOREVER
#23 – HUSH
#24 – THE MIND’S EYE
#25 – DARLING
#26 – SUN CHOKE
#27 – SUMMER CAMP
#28 – BASKIN
#29 – HOLIDAYS
#30 – THE HALLOW
#31 – SOUTHBOUND


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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