Confession Time: I haven’t seen Train to Busan yet (I know, I know). [Editor’s Note: When I read this, I can’t help but hear Luke reading this confession as if John Cusack’s below question in High Fidelity]
I’m probably going about this backwards, watching the prequel first, but considering the quality of Seoul Station, I’ll being visiting Train real soon. It’s an interesting choice to make an animated prequel to a live action zombie movie. I’m not sure I get the reasoning, but I’ll go along with it.
It looks and feels like cheapo animation, and I’m fine with that. The zombie pandemic plot isn’t particularly fresh or new, and I’m fine with that as well. Why? Because the plot is well crafted; it works.
But what Seoul Station does contributes to the zombie outbreak genre is its thematic connection between zombies and the homeless. We’ve seen zombies employed as metaphorical fodder for just about everything else troubling society (consumerism, racism, environmental, post 9/11 paranoia to name a few), but I don’t ever recall seeing them used to portray society’s contempt towards those it brushes aside into the margins. In Seoul, the outbreak’s patient zero is an indigent living with the relative shelter of a train station. They are ignored, treated as a nuisance, and shown contempt. When his friend realizes he is badly injured, and apparently dying, his calls for help to the police and hospital are treated with patronizing apathy. Pretty soon, zombies are literally eating the rich, the pandemic a stand-in for a kind of moral disease eating at us from the inside. It’s a cool spin on a well-worn genre that’s reached a saturation point in popular culture over the past decade.
Ultimately, It will probably have a lot more impact after watching Train to Busan, but it’s got value as a stand-alone film as well.
BLAINE MCLAREN: I am going to be the first one to admit that this movie was not made for me. This kind of animation bores the living shit out of me. In spite of this, I made myself watch the entire film and hoped that I would get something from it. Seoul Station is the animated prequel to the fantastic Train To Busan and could be one of the most unnecessary things in recent memory.
The film tries to echo the emotional tone of the original movie, but fails at every turn. The characters are boring and the only person that I cared about died pretty quickly, leaving me with no one to care about. Train To Busan was nearly perfect and this just feels like a cheap knockoff. Maybe its better if you like animation, but I don’t care. Turn on Netflix and watch the original movie and just ignore this joyless, bland attempt at creating a franchise.
RACHAEL HAUSCHILD: Seoul Station is the prequel to Train to Busan. I would take the word prequel with a grain of salt. The only thing these have in common is the zombie factor. Train to Busan was in my top 10 of 2016 landing at number 7. If I saw Seoul Station last year, it wouldn’t have even made the cut. Unfortunately, this didn’t vibe well with me at all. The subplot in the story was poorly done as it dropped out for a long time. The twist that happens seemed so abrupt and out of place leaving me with little to no emotion at all. I feel like this could have been brushed up so much.
I must admit, some of the zombie scenes were pretty fantastic and they looked awesome. However; everything else faltered. This felt like an episode of The Walking Dead. Sad to say, I couldn’t really wait for this to end. I was hoping for a story that would go right into Train to Busan, but there wasn’t much of that. I think this would have benefited from being a live action film because as an animation it felt bland.
JUSTIN HARLAN: As per usual, I’ll let the crew do the heavy lifting and just editorialize a bit. I liked this film – having not yet seen Train to Busan may or may not have impacted that – but I really did enjoy it a good deal.
I’m not an big anime guy and I’ve been struggling to stay into foreign films, period, lately… but…
Here are some of my notes:
- This reminds me of some of the Batman animated films to hit the small screens (and a few big screens in the case of The Killing Joke) in recent years – this is a GOOD thing, as I truly love a few of these films and generally like them all.
- I, like Luke, really need to finally sit down and watch Train to Busan… unrelated other than being a South Korean horror film, but I need to watch The Waiting finally, too.
- I didn’t even think of the socioeconomic implications of this film until I read Luke’s thoughts. I’m losing my touch as a Sociologist, it seems.
- I think another watch may make this one ever stronger for me… as it stands about a 3 out of 5 (at least that’s what I rated it on Letterboxd)