Train to Busan


Viewed – 28 February 2017  Blu-ray

There’s certainly been a number of quality movies coming out of Korea in recent years … from the acclaimed films of Park-chan Wook (‘Old Boy’, ‘Sympathy for Mr Vengeance’) to quality horror like ‘I Saw The Devil’.  So I thought after enjoying such movies, I’d better seek out some more Korean cinema.  So we come to this much talked about take on the 28 Days Later formula of a virus outbreak and a hoard of ‘infected’.  This time during a routine train journey.

Train to Busan

We’re introduced to a businessman (Yoo Gong) going through a messy divorce and trying to retain some sort of relationship with his daughter.  However on a train journey to take her back to her mother, said business man and a group of interesting characters soon discover that a virus has broken out and is spreading like wildfire.  This is classic stuff, not dissimilar to a disaster movie where the viewer is introduced to a range of personalities each with their own agendas and back stories.  However with the threat of a growing number of infected on the train and not knowing if the destination is safe, a battle for survival quickly ensures with tension cranked up to 11.  I felt this brought back genuine thrills and intensity to horror that seems to have been missing for a while.  It favours heart-in-mouth moments (whenever a window shatters) over gore and has impressive CGI and slick production values throughout.

The setting was claustrophobic and made for some genuinely chilling moments and the range of different characters (all well acted, particularly the young girl) made me care for not just the principle leads but almost everyone (bar a particularly selfish guy who you’ll be booing towards the end).  It’s the sort of movie that keeps you guessing about who will survive and how things will turn out and for me, made for probably the best movie of the year so far.

Verdict:  5 /5

Zombeavers


Viewed – 29 April 2016  Blu-ray

Yes I watched this and yes I’m on a bit of a horror binge of late.  This decidedly silly concept movie has been getting a bit of buzz on the ‘horror scene’.  Three girls decide to get away from it all and head off to a secluded cabin near a lake.  However following the accidental spillage of some toxic chemicals into said lake, a group of resident beavers start to take on ravenous, zombie characteristics.

zombeavers

It’s a seriously daft idea for a movie but done tongue planted firmly in cheek and jam-packed with an infectious sense of humour and a love for genre horror.  We get horny teens, boobs, blood and carnage and a few clichés like the bitch, the nerd and the girl getting over her boyfriend cheating.  Effects are passable, with the animatronic / stop-motion beavers themselves proving effective, but with a low budget the lack of invention to the kills is jarring and some mutant zombie / human / beaver hybrid action only just makes up for this.  The script does however have some good one-liners and a few decent pay-offs and it’s all done with plenty of enthusiasm.  Acting is serviceable at best, and I’d have liked a bit more character to the girls and their horny boyfriends … but in the end you’re just waiting to see who gets killed next and in what way.

Yet this still manages to be a lot of fun.  It knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else.  A bit more money thrown at the effects would have given this more of a status to stand alongside say, Evil Dead 2 or Piranha 3D.  Yet for what it is, this still deserves to be seen – just bring plenty of beer, popcorn and friends and you’ll have a blast.

Verdict:  3 /5

[REC] Apocalypse


Viewed – 02 March 2015  Blu-ray

What the previous, third entry in this popular cult franchise had in personality, gore and entertainment, it lacked in under-the-skin scares and dread, whilst adding very little to the story.  Oh and why it was called Genesis is anyone’s idea.  However a bride wielding a chainsaw will always get points from me.

rec-apocalypse.jpg

So we come to this fourth and probably final entry in the franchise, as lone survivor Angela; the reporter who managed to get through the horrors of the apartment building in the first two movies, finds herself on a boat surrounded by scientists and the military amongst the regular crew.  Have they managed to contain the virus that caused people to turn into ravenous zombies?  Thankfully this is a return to the more serious, claustrophobic and tension filled tone of the first two movies, dropping much of the schlock of the third, which at times was more comedy than horror.  The hand-held camera approach that worked so well initially doesn’t make a return however but that’s no major loss (apart from causing the title to make little sense) and I still found this pretty nail biting stuff.  Following on from the shock climax of the second movie, I enjoyed the is-she isn’t-she of Angela’s infection, wondering what the scientists are really up to, and why there seems to be a monkey running around.

In Manuela Velasco’s Angela we have a gutsy, suitably sexy heroine who is supported well by some interesting characters, including a geeky tech guy who just happens to be the plucky reporter’s number-one fan.  The movie barely touches on the demonic possession angle of the previous movies however and is much more straight-forward action horror – with a very exciting and intense final act.  Yet by the time we reach this fourth entry, clearly the story is scraping the ideas-barrel … and a parasitic organism just isn’t as scary as possession, despite the franchise’s initial potential.  For a zombie-fest though, I still had a good time.

Verdict:  3 /5

Left 4 Dead


On-line gaming has rarely interested me.  Ok, I’m not too shabby at Halo 3 or Call Of Duty 4, but often come away dissatisfied compared to single player gaming.  I feel mainly like there’s no real point to it all.

That has now all changed with the arrival of latest shooter Left 4 Dead.  Now before you say ‘its just an on-line shooter with a tacked on single player mode’, I will firstly agree with you, and then say one word: VALVE.  The celebrated developer behind my favourite game of all time; Half Life 2.  Now this uses the same Source graphics engine, which still looks the biz today, but the reason this game just nails it on-line is this:  you have to work together.  You wont be any good at this game if you go it alone, and neither will you survive very long if your team mates do the same.  Yet as  each of the four players all learn this quite quickly too, soon you are working together to battle the zombie apocalypse, and unless you protect and heal and lookout for each other – its going to be Game Over very quickly.

There is so much this game gets right.  If you die, its not the end, as you are then transported to a safe location, and your team mates are made aware of your location and can come and let you out.  If you take a break from the slaughter, then you can get the computer to take over without your team mates being any the wiser – and above all else, it feels like you’re in a movie like 28 Days Later or Land of the Dead – and that is both frightening and f****** brilliant!

Make way online gamers – I’m baaaaaack!

Diary of the Dead


Viewed – 19 August 2008  DVD

George A Romero, the godfather of the zombie movie is back with his latest feet dragging opus in this documentary-style origin tale of the zombie apocalypse, almost as if his previous movies never happened. 

Taking its lead from movies like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield this follows a group of film students who find themselves amidst of a zombie outbreak whilst filming their own horror movie.  This slow-burning series of events, done as if edited together from witnessed footage and narrated by one of the film students, is a fresh apporach to the genre but lacks some of the scares of the more famous films in the series like Dawn of the Dead and most notably Night of the Living Dead.  Yet the cast of unkowns are likable and convincing even if this overall concept keeps you wondering why everything is still being filmed and why they don’t just get the hell out of dodge…but then again one only has to look at the amateur footage captured during 9/11 to realise we will document the most harrowing of experiences rather than doing the more rational alternative.

Even though, I felt this film, whilst fascinating and with plenty of good moments lacked energy and thrill.  After watching the sublime Cloverfield this just felt a little amateurish.  Still a thought provoking oddity none the less thats worthy of your time.

Verdict:  3 /5