Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its sixth year in October! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers, I have once again compiled a list counting down to my favorite horror film released since last October and covered in this here AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Some of these films might be new to you since there isn’t a lot of horror in theaters these days. That said, there were more on this list that DID have a theatrical run than in previous years which means the horror genre does seem to be on the upswing. Some of these films have only seen the light of day on Video On Demand or simply go straight to DVD/BluRay or digital download.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year since October 1st, 2015 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column five years ago!) and worked and reworked the list until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness. We’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth nothing or missed being on the list by a little bit for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know how you liked the film I chose, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own list…let’s go!
TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016)Directed by Sang-ho Yeon
Written by Sang-ho Yeon
Starring Yoo Gong, Dong-seok Ma, Woo-sik Choi, Yu-mi Jeong, Sohee, Kim Soo-ahn
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
Every year there’s a film that proves that there’s life in the old reanimated corpse that is the overspread subgenre of horror dedicated to zombies. This year TRAIN TO BUSAN is that film.
Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo ) is a workaholic father who agrees to take his daughter Soo-an (Kim Soo-ahn) to see his estranged wide/her mother who lives in a neighboring city of Seoul, South Korea. As they board a bullet train, a passenger boards the train suffering from some kind of ailment. On the news, reports of a viral outbreak are ignored as people go on their day to day, so the last minute board isn’t thought about until she collapses, spasms, and awakens as an infected dead—ready to bite and spread a contagion from one train car to the next as those uninfected fight from car to car for their survival.
So yeah, it’s SNOWPIERCER with zombies or ZOMBIES ON A TRAIN instead of SNAKES ON A PLANE, but what this film did is remind me of why I love zombie movies in the first place. For one thing, there isn’t a self-referential, annoyingly ironic tone to this film as many modern zombie films have. This is a straight up zombie film that is occurring all over the Korean country (and most likely the world, but we aren’t made privy to that in the world of the movie). We see snippets of the outbreak at the beginning, some rushing police cars, and some reports on the news, but what makes this compelling is the personal story that takes place within the zombie outbreak. It’s the story of a disconnected father who plays the role of caregiver without really knowing what it takes to do so. Gong Yoo is great as the absent dad who is all business and connected to his cell at all times with clients, too busy to see his marriage crumbling and his daughter crying for attention. Through much of this film, the choice is made between what is good for oneself and what is simply heroic. It’s a strong and universal theme, broad enough to work in any situation and applied to this bleak scenario, it’s works amazingly here. The role of the self-centered vs the heroic is exemplified by different characters here as THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE WEIRD’s Dong-seok Ma plays a noble husband protecting his pregnant wife. His character is often put into contrast with Gong Yoo’s to show just what the businessman/father is doing wrong. Dong-seok Ma’s presence is formidable here and I hope to see more of this gruff and buff actor in future films. These characters are painted with broad strokes, but serve their purpose to tell as story of what to do and what not to do as a parent.
But stealing the show is little Kim Soo-ahn, who plays Soo-an, the adorable little girl caught in the middle of this mess. This little kid is a hell of an actress and the main reason I was pulled into this movie so deeply. At such a young age, she is able to express emotions that will break your heart into pieces and those who don’t shed a tear during the emotional climax of TRAIN TO BUSAN might want to check for a pulse.
The zombies themselves are not exactly original, but presented in a way that feels fresh and new. These are fast moving zombies, but twitchy and oddly moving due to their animalistic mannerisms and disregard for the damage done to their bodies in their pursuit of prey. The film also borrows a bit from WORLD WAR Z, showing the zombies moving in a mass. It’s not as over the top as the zombie wave, but much subtler, and therefore more effective, as the zombies move like ants, clinging to one another to catch a speeding train or clumping together to move en masse in close quarters. This gives them an otherworldly feel that many zombie movies lack and the seamless CG helps immensely in making these zombies formidable and scary.
Strong performances, tight effects, a strong linear story structure, and treating old material in a fresh manner makes TRAIN TO BUSAN the best zombie movie of the year. You’re not sick of zombie movies. You’re sick of zombie movies that are redundant and suck. This is definitely not one of those movies. Seek out TRAIN TO BUSAN, it’s an emotional rollercoaster and a downright horrifying trip into dark undead territory.
#9 – TRAIN TO BUSAN
#10 - KRAMPUS
#11 – AVA’S POSSESSIONS
#12 – BODY
#13 – THE WAILING
#14 – THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE
#15 – DEATHGASM
#16 – 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
#17 – DER BUNKER
#18 – HUSH
#19 – HOLIDAYS
#20– CARNAGE PARK
#21 – THE CONJURING 2
#22 – THE MIND’S EYE
#23 – DARLING
#24 – SUN CHOKE
#25 – THE HALLOWS
#26 – OVER YOUR DEAD BODY
#27 – SUMMER CAMP
#28 – EMELIE
#29 – BASKIN
#30 – I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
#31 – SOUTHBOUND
2015 #1 – THE CANAL
2014 #1 – PROXY
2013 #1 - MANIAC
2012 #1 – THE WOMAN
2011 #1 – THE LAST CIRCUS
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 15 years & AICN HORROR for 5. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller and on his new website collecting posts for AICN HORROR as well as all of the most recent updates on his various comic book projects on MLMillerWrites.com.
A quick plug for my own work. I have a new comic book coming out this December called THE JUNGLE BOOK HOLIDAY SPECIAL: BAGHEERA’S SECRET. It’s a one shot reteaming my original JUNGLE BOOK artist Carlos Granda and myself (the same team who created PIROUETTE) and it is available to order now via Previews order# OCT162113. I’m getting pages of this book by the day and this book looks absolutely amazing so far. Fans of jungle adventure are going to love it! Please support me by telling your local comic book store to order tons of issues of this comic! Much appreciated, folks.
Look for Johnny Destructo, Stephen Andrade, Christian DiBari, and my own ramblings about random horror films on CultPop/PoptardsGo and Ain’t It Cool on AICN HORROR’s CANNIBAL HORRORCAST Podcast every other Thursday (or so…)!
Finally, if you’re having problems with the texts going over the image in this article, refresh the screen and that should do the trick!