Monday, June 22, 2020

Seoul Station (2016)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Seoul Station (2016)
Genre: Animation, Horror, Thriller
Length: 92 minutes
Rating: NR
Production/Distribution: Finecut, Movic Comics, Studio Dadashow, Broadway, Clover Films, Copiapoa Film, Golden Village Pictures, A Contracorriente Films, Finecut, N.E.W., Splendid Film
Director: Sang-ho Yeon
Writer: Sang-ho Yeon
Actors: Seung-ryong Ryu, Franciska Friede, Joon Lee, Sang-hee Lee, Eun-kyung Shim

Blurb from IMDb: Several groups of people try to survive a zombie pandemic that unleashes itself in downtown Seoul.

Selina’s Point of View:
Back in 2018, Cat and I reviewed Train to Busan (2016). If you look back at that article, you’ll see that we were both absolutely in love with the film. We were using a slightly different format for choosing the movies for our reviews back then, so we had to wait for the prequel to come up randomly for us. By the time we altered the format, we’d forgotten about it. At least, until we started poking around Shudder.

I was super looking forward to seeing this film, and I’m pretty happy with what I got. It wasn’t as good as the first one, but it was still pretty decent.

The first thing I have to note is that I don’t like this style of animation. Let me be clear, I love anime. It’s not that. I just don’t like this particular style. To be fair, I’m simply not going to factor the style into my overall opinion.

We knew what the plot was going to be going in. Even more-so than just through blurbs and trailers. It’s a prequel to a zombie apocalypse story so, it was easy to figure out that we’d be following someone through the story of how it all started. I made some assumptions, also, based on the start of Train to Busan and who we followed there.

Even with that said, Seoul Station had some tricks up it sleeves. There were twists that I never saw coming – though I see the foreshadowing when I look back. I was really shocked that this film came with so many surprises, despite the fact that we know what comes next.

I was also impressed with the subtle social commentary. Since elementary school I’ve taken an interest in the needs of the homeless population. It’s absolutely criminal the way the homeless are dehumanized. It’s very easy for people to forget that few bad months could put them in similar situations. Or maybe it’s hard to forget, and that’s why people rail against them so hard: misplaced fear and anger.

Either way, this film does a good job of showing the way the homeless are ignored, yet still blamed for things.

Seoul Station was a very thrilling zombie story. It never got into the science behind why zombies came about, and we never actually see patient zero, but it still served as a commendable story in the Train to Busan universe. I think it’s a worth a watch.

Cat’s Point of View:
Train to Busan (2016) is one of my favorite zombie horror movies. With that said, you can imagine that I was rather excited to get a chance to watch the animated prequel. While Train to Busan is said to actually be the live-action sequel to this animated film, Seoul Station wasn’t released until after the live-action film hit screens.

Honestly, I don’t think it matters what order they were released in. It works, regardless. Seoul Station is an excellent setup for the events in Train to Busan, and vice versa. Of course, one reason that works both ways is the same feel for the story carries across both due to sharing the same writer/director, Sang-ho Yeon (The King of Pigs, The Fake, Psychokinesis). I’m even more impressed with Train to Busan after learning it was Yeon’s first live-action film.

Let’s get down to the actual review.

Seoul Station had everything one could expect from the zombie genre. It had a slow but steady build until the story reached critical mass – then the edge of my proverbial seat became my perch until the final credits. The relentless desperation of the characters scrambling for their lives in the face of classist discrimination and a zombie horde was palpable. 

Like most offerings of the genre, it showcased both the best and worst humanity had to offer.

This story was crafted so well, I am nearly at a loss for words in explaining its impact. I was invested in the characters and even felt irked that I was rooting for the ones I didn’t even like very much. Then there’s a twist that just had me staring at the screen with mouth agape in shock.

The only remotely negative thing I have to say about the film would be that it was a little annoying that the subtitles didn't translate whatever was shown as plain text on the screen before the animation started. Since I don't speak Korean, I couldn't tell if it was simply the pre-movie credits extended or if it was prologue text. Even without knowing what it said, it still doesn't change my opinion about the film over-all.

I will likely want to re-watch both this animated movie and the live-action before the next movie in the series, Peninsula (2020?), is released. Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic’s effect on cinema releases, it’s unclear when that will actually hit screens – but I can’t wait.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 36%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.1/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

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