Whilst I’m not going to make a habit of reviewing zombie movies here, Seoul Station is the animated prequel to the live-action Korean zombie disaster movie Train to Busan – and so it feels fitting to review this to close out the set. It has a lot in common with disaster movies and like it’s live action counterpart – relies on the sheer terror of growing numbers of threats in tight spaces to really heighten your emotions.
Runtime: 1hr 32 mins
Being animated instead of live action, Seoul Station will be marmite from the get-go to some who do not (much to my regret) take the medium seriously. It’s refreshing that everything actually looks and feels like Korea – including its characters. Animation can bring about different emotions too but where Seoul Station exceeds expectations is in being able to convey a variety of fear and terror. It doesn’t go for anything unbelievable and the fact you could shift this film shot for shot to live action and retain that fear is a testament to how well put together this film is. Inevitably the film will be compared to Train to Busan, as the events here happen the day before that film. In some ways, this is a smaller scale movie as we focus on three main characters – but unlike Busan’s very likeable cast, this trio all have serious issues. You feel for their situation but I’m not sure if I’d actually like them. You don’t get to see a rounded view of them as the action kicks off quickly and from there it is a descent into pure survival mode.
The animation is slick and whilst it is mildly jarring to move from 2D to 3D animation for some of the more cinematic shots, it works well. Some of the frame rates on the crowd and running shots are not fantastic, but the scale of destruction is.
Why It’s Worth Watching
From a horror standpoint, Seoul Station is a great example of the genre. It also follows loads of the typical disaster movie tropes. Never help anyone out, it gets you in trouble. Horrible people will be horrible until the end. Redemption may not come until its too late. Balancing on metal beams is always a good skill to have. There’s so many, it feels like a disaster movie but instead of water or fire – it’s just a wall of fast running leaping salmon zombies. Whilst there’s lots of neck munching, it’s also easier to watch if you don’t like gore (me) because it is animated – but the suspense for the characters is still ramped up. What I really liked here was how the film deals with collateral damage. Much of the final 40 minutes is as a result of the Government deciding to fence everyone in and take out everyone. As a survivor, you’re now the hunted from the zombies but also by the officials and that was a great twist on things. There’s also an interesting sub-commentary on class and culture going on here. Many of the sub-characters are homeless and their treatment and wisdom throughout the film are interesting comments on society.
Every time you’re reminded the boyfriend is a complete low life and dreg of society.
Of the main cast, it has to be Hye-Sun. What a crappy life she’s had – I’d want to bawl my eyes out too girl.
I always find it difficult for zombie movies to not have the characters understand that everyone is turning into a zombie. Is the word copyrighted?! Lastly – the ending. I don’t want to spoil the twists and turns of the final section but it has a bit of a logic lapse and whilst it was dramatic and poetic, it breaks the films logic pattern to make it happen.
Made for $500,000! Also, the English release is subtitled only – no dub – and that works nicely here.
A great movie on its own, but a really good companion piece to Train to Busan. An excellent back to back of the two could really be the best way to spend a zombie apocalypse if you can’t stomach 28 Days later!