M.L. Miller here! As I go into my 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 Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2016 and going through September 30, 2017. I have posted Best of 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 May 5, 2017! Available On Demand, digital download, & DVD here! Also streaming on Shudder!
SEOUL STATION (2016)
Directed by Sang-ho Yeon
Written by Sang-ho Yeon
Starring Seung-ryong Ryu, Franciska Friede, Joon Lee, Sang-hee Lee, Eun-kyung Shim
Find out more about this film here
While technically, I believe it came out first in Korea before its sequel TRAIN TO BUSAN, SEOUL STATION serves as a perfect counter-punch. Seen combined and keeping with boxing terminology, it’s a bonafide one-two knockout punch for completely different reasons.
Those who have seen TRAIN TO BUSAN or any other zombie movie will be familiar with the setup to this one. At the beginning of SEOUL STATION, a homeless man with a bite wound wanders the streets of Seoul, Korea in search of help, but no one will give it to him. Of course, it turns out he is infected with a virus that kills people and then brings them back to life as a leaping, sputtering, bone-cracking, teeth-gnashing zombie that attacks and kills anything living in its path with little regard for things like gravity or the density of its own flesh and bone against glass, concrete, and steel. Meanwhile, across the city, a young man is forcing his girlfriend Hye-Sun into prostitution due to their financial hardship. When Hye-Sun’s father is informed that his daughter is on an internet escort site, he makes his way to the city and sets up a date with the boyfriend in order to find Hye-Sun. Sounds like a good plan if not for the fact that the zombie apocalypse has just begin and the streets are teeming with the undead that are infecting the living at an alarmingly fast rate. Connected only by Hye-Sun’s telephone, the two parties make their way above, through, and under zombie hordes to get to one another.
While TRAIN TO BUSAN is a blockbuster-esque rollercoaster ride of an awesome film, SEOUL STATION tells a much smaller, and surprisingly more nuanced story set in the same apocalypse. Both films deal with the usual zombie film stuff we’ve seen a million times, but I was as shocked as I was with TRAIN TO BUSAN at how these tropes felt fresh and vivid in the hands of the filmmaker of both films Sang-ho Yeon. While TRAIN TO BUSAN centered on the almost saccharine sweet relationship lesson between father and daughter, SEOUL STATION focuses more on broader and weightier themes of class structure such as how the homeless are seen in society and how certain groups are sectioned off from safety when the shit hits the fan. Because of some coincidences and rushed assumptions, the police think that the problem is that the homeless are going crazy and having some kind of uprising. We know that is not what is happening, but the government breaks out the hoses, batons, and eventually firing squads in order to try to contain and quell the situation. There is even a scene where a well to do man who dedicated his life to working for the government finds himself trapped in with the unwashed masses and demands to be let through the barricade. He is confronted by a homeless man that also served in the military. It’s a conflict like this that elevates SEOUL STATION to something way more meaningful than a simple zombie cartoon.
And while SEOUL STATION again is about a father and daughter relationship, this one plays out in a much more sinister and pitch black fashion by the end. I don’t want to spoil this one. You have to see it yourself. But I found the ending to SEOUL STATION just as moving as the relationship between father and daughter in TRAIN TO BUSAN—just for completely different reasons. The variety in which this same theme is handled in both films shows how deft a storyteller Sang-ho Yeon really is. Just when you think the filmmaker is going to repeat himself with themes through both movies, the rug is pulled out right from under you. I was blown away by the way this one resolves itself.
. It’s interesting that TRAIN TO BUSAN: PENINSULA is coming out in a few weeks and I look forward to how it stacks up against these two stellar movies from Sang-ho Yeon. Those writing off SEOUL STATION as “just an anime movie” or worse yet “just a foreign language cartoon” are missing out on a truly scary, highly energized, emotionally acrobatic horror film of the highest caliber that very much compliments and adds to the awesomeness of TRAIN TO BUSAN. If you loved TRAIN TO BUSAN, you’re going to love this one. This is no cartoony and spastic anime, this is a high tension nosedive into terror that just happens to be animated. See SEOUL STATION. It will energize your love for zombies all over again.
THE 2016-2017 COUNTDOWN!
#16 – SEOUL STATION
#17 – THE TRANSFIGURATION
#18 – THE GREASY STRANGLER
#19 – I AM THE PRETTY THING IN THE HOUSE
#20 – ANNABELLE 2: CREATION
#21 – SPLIT
#22— TRASH FIRE
#23 – 47 METERS DOWN
#24 – HELL HOUSE LLC
#25 – THE SUBLET
#26 – PATCHWORK
#27 – IT STAINS THE SANDS RED
#28 – GERALD’S GAME
#29 – LAKE BODOM
#30 – NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE
#31 – THE EVIL WITHIN
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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