It’s safe to say 2016 has been a brutal year for horror fans — in the best way possible. While this summer has seen its fair share of Hollywood flop fests, movies like The Shallows and The Conjuring 2 have exceeded expectations to reign supreme at the box office. And it looks like this blood-soaked horror train isn’t ready to slow down just yet, thanks to one movie causing all kinds of havoc at the Asian box office.
Directed by Yeon Sang-Ho and starring Yoo Gong, Train to Busan takes place on — you guessed it — a high-speed bullet train heading from the South Korean capital of Seoul to the southern city of Busan.
It is set one day after Sang-Ho’s previous animated movie Seoul Station, which primarily dealt with the first phase of the zombie outbreak, eventually leading into the events of Train. What happens next is a desperate fight to survive — and these zombies aren’t the bumbling, brain-dead ghouls of classic Romero. These guys take their cues fromWorld War Z and 28 Days Later; their terror is in their speed, agility and desperate need for human flesh.
More Than Just Zombies on a Train
The movie first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and earned some pretty impressive reviews for a bloody zombie horror. Many noted the movie’s not-so-subtle social and political commentary about corporate greed and selfishness as one of the reasons it was rated so highly.
This is especially poignant after S. Korea faced a national tragedy in 2014, when 300 teenagers drowned after a ferry overturned in the sea. Investigators discovered that the ferry had been overloaded by its corporate owners to save money, while the captain and crew escaped to safety. Initially the media reported that everyone survived the disaster, because the government told them to. This dark moment in Korea’s recent history heavily influenced the movie’s plot, and inserted depth into the done-to-death zombie genre.
The Biggest South Korean Movie Ever Made?
Train to Busan was released internationally in July and has spent the summer infecting movie theatres in China, Hong Kong and South Korea. Since its release, the movie has shattered expectations. So far, Train to Busan has:
- Made $34 million in its first five days of release
- Grossed $80 million (so far)
- Is the highest grossing Korean film ever in Hong Kong and Taiwan
- Has been seen by one fifth of the S. Korean population
- Has earned a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and 8/10 in IMDB
Not bad for a movie with an estimated $182,000 budget! $80 million might not seem like a huge taking when it comes to Hollywood blockbusters. To put this in perspective, the year’s biggest horror (so far),The Conjuring 2, made $319 million, and the most successful foreign language movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Taiwan) made $128 million. $80 million is huge for a Korean-made, Korean-set and Korean-acted movie.
Train to Busan was released in the US in selected theatres, but thanks to the movie’s success overseas, there is a small chance it may get a second, wider release. As for a sequel? Well if they can drag Resident Evilout for six movies, I’m sure Train has a little more milage ahead of it.