Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

Train to Busan (2016)

October 17, 2018

When I was in college, I had to take a train to and from college because that was the most convenient way to visit my family on breaks. I would often take a similar route after college when I lived in Northern Jersey. I had very little experience with public transportation growing up because I lived so close to school growing up. So when I boarded those trains to journey through several states, It felt weird. The experiences always set off my social anxiety as there were so many people around. Because it was cheaper, I often bought tickets for unreserved trains which meant that the trains were often oversold and there were not enough seats for me to get one. I would walk through cars full of people who looked at me and I felt very self-conscious. In reality, they were probably just glancing at me because who am I? I eventually decided that I would rather sit between cars than on the floors of occupied cars. I would get hassled and it was super loud in there but at least I was alone.

Infection is something that I have always been wary of but, over time, it became more of a legitimate fear. Of course, the flu helped teach me about infection as a kid and chicken pox furthered that knowledge. However, the first time the fear of infection was introduced was our education on HIV and AIDs as children. Our school was at the forefront of educating us about it honestly and truthfully. This countered the fear with plans and precautions and science. This prepared me to not buy into the fear of later outbreaks of SARs, bird flu, West Nile virus, the return of Ebola, and others. Medical science has improved since the days of the Black Plague and other deadly diseases that wiped out so many people. Still, it feels like we ware living on the edge of a knife when it comes to vaccinations. Many have bought into misinformation and their own ignorance and have refused to vaccinate their children. This inevitably leads to the return of diseases we had made harmless through science. So yes, infection is a justified fear when it comes to ignorance.

Since claiming that I did not really like zombie movies, I have actually been on a quest to find one that I really like (besides Shaun of the Dead). I immediately really liked this movie and I will tell you why. The acting and character work are really good. We are introduced to central characters immediately who I could identify with. Su-an Kim plays a little girl who feels emotionally distant from her father who she lives with. She wants to visit her mother who left her father but did not get custody. Her workaholic father tries to connect with her but agrees to take her on the train to visit her mother to make her happy. As a child of divorce, this really struck a chord with me. Also, I felt like they depicted a zombie outbreak as realistically as possible. If I saw a zombie, I would think it was somebody on drugs or having a weird seizure at first. The descent into madness is slow with people reacting first with bewildered annoyance and that slowly morphs into shrieking terror and then acceptance. People are too calm in other zombie movies far too quickly. In addition, the actors all have a lot of charisma and likable potential victims always make a movie scarier.

I also really liked the effects in this one. The gore is not over the top and a lot more is done with each zombie actor’s physicality than any makeup or appliances. They are ordinary people gone rabid. The choreography of the zombies really did more than any putrefied makeup job could ever do. Also, they made a big point of showing people alive and later showing them as zombies to really drive home the tragedy of people turning into mindless rage puppets. The setting of a train also makes the movie uniquely claustrophobic. Trains are very unique as they feel like a small traveling town where you can walk up and down the cars and actually walk a long distance. Also, every car looks the same which makes it hard to tell where you are. Having what amounts to wild animals in a tight space is a really startling and creepy sight.

Overall, I loved this movie. The characters were all really interesting and so was the setting. They really used the setting of a train much like Snowpiercer did. I really worried about these people and their journey to try and escape a zombie outbreak. They really captured how people would react in that situation. Some become heroes, some become selfish. The movie also examines a mob mentality (aside from the zombies). Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that this movie is in Korean but the acting is so good that it transcends language.

The Host (2006)

October 21, 2016

The environment is becoming a bigger and bigger issue these days. As we explore more and more about it, we learn a little bit more and realize that there is still so much to figure out. Especially deep in the water, there are things that are incredibly alien to us. Some of them are as strange and terrifying to us as any extraterrestrial we might meet from space. These creatures do not know anything about direct human contact and it’s easy to see that they would not fear us. Of course, they should be angry at us at this point. Our species has caused untold devastation on the planet’s ecosystem with development and pollution. We have seen the impact we have had on the parts of the oceans we can explore. What have we done to the parts we can’t see? How would these strange alien creatures respond to our chemical compounds? Would we be prepared to deal with that? All of these are scary questions to consider.

One of the scariest things in our human society is the loss of a child or injury to a child. I do not even really like children but hurting a child is an affront to me. I do not forgive those who intentionally hurt children and I cannot abide by that behavior. Maybe it is part of our human instinct to protect the young in order to keep the species alive which is now rather pointless after population explosion. When a baby cries, you just automatically feel bad. Of course, you cannot help it so you get annoyed at the parents for not helping it quicker. It makes little sense but it always happens to me and I have heard similar accounts. We just do not accept bad things happening to children like we accept bad things happening to adults. We are much more likely to turn a blind eye to an adult in peril but a tragedy with a child will stop the world. Because of that, I get extra antsy when there are kids in a horror movie because I do not want anything to happen to them. They have their lives ahead of them and it is unfair for some demon or beast to change that.

Sometimes, I watch things because they are popular. I see it as atoning for my teenage days when I hated everything that was popular out of spite. This movie was number 41 out of 100 of the best horror movies on IMDB.com and it got a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the movie comes out of South Korea so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had not seen any other Korean films (North or South). The acting is very good. For the most part, everybody acts pretty much how people do in real life. I have to give a special shout out to Song Kang-ho who plays the father. He is such a relatable and likable buffoon. His daughter is played by Go Ah-sung and she is such a sweet girl that you want to protect her. There is definitely a comedic spin on the proceedings in places but there is also terror, sadness and desperation as well. A good horror movie makes you laugh here and there so it can scare the bejeezus out of you right when you have let your guard down. This movie does that in spades.

The effects are very good in this one. It has the same CGI team as The Day After Tomorrow which had great special effects even though it was a ludicrously bad film. Of course, the monster effects were done by Weta Workshop so we made it all of two days without mentioning them. At the same time, the monster looks like a lot of things we have seen before but also something interestingly unique. Jon Cox powered the creature with beautiful animatronics on par with any movie monster I have ever seen. When it moves, I really believe that it is a danger and an intelligent creature. The government response was believable as well. In a crisis like the one we see, the government would be mostly clueless but would be quick to do something even if it was the wrong thing. I really liked that element as an additional obstacle for the main characters.

Overall, this was a great horror/science fiction movie. There was plenty of comedy but there was even more tragedy and horror involved which ended up being a very compelling blend. There was also a bit of an adventure quality to the movie as a family sets out to save one of their own. There is definitely some anti-American sentiment in the movie but it is balanced well and not without merit. The US military did dump a lot of formaldehyde down the drain in Seoul. Our country is portrayed as butting in just as we probably would in real life. The South Korean government is also portrayed in a negative light so it is impossible for me to get bent out of shape about it. I definitely recommend this movie, especially to any foreign film buffs.


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