The Horror is Alive
By Kristin Ann Rivera (Ebert Young Writer Participant)
Every apocalypse has its beginning, and in this case, it is where Resident Evil collides with Walking Dead. Written and directed by Yeon Sang-Ho, Seoul Station presents a world preceding the zombie takeover. The survival horror film opens with a bright palette of sky as an old man is seen walking through the city, while grasping his neck as it bleeds out. Onlookers, though concerned, refrain from going out of their way to help. Eventually, the man lays down in an alley accompanied by homeless people.
Throughout the course of the story, viewers are introduced to a number of other characters, such as a young couple, Hye-Sun and Ki-Woong. With the concern of safety being prominent, Ki-Woong’s character in particular goes from hesitant and weak to strong-minded and brave as viewers will notice his character’s change of heart towards the end of the film. What was becoming a downhill slope for the young couple’s relationship, gradually finds its leverage amidst the impending doom.
Melodramatic yet humorous at parts, the main goal is survival. There are moments that feel like an elongated deep breath in anticipation of the next scene that may not come as quickly as one would hope. These moments emphasize the human nature of being absolutely terrified, whether it be a lack of movement or incessant sobs, their static quality drives a wedge between the present scene and the one to follow.
Either way, expect mindless and bloodthirsty zombies wreaking havoc as their population increases. Surprisingly enough, these zombies are not as quick on their feet, but they do take immediate notice to humans who remain unaffected. The question of whether or not they escape successfully is a different story. But the fist-to-fist combat against the walking dead is more than likely to provoke some chuckling among the crowd. For an animated film, Seoul Station does a decent job of setting the tone for its successor, Train to Busan. The intensity level of Seoul Station may not be as high compared to Train to Busan, but it will definitely test the patience of its patrons.
From the pivotal instant the first victim is bitten and screams off camera, it is at that point where the tone is set for the rest of the film. Immediately afterwards, the ring tone of a woman’s cell phone goes off on a quiet nearby street, adding to the ominous air, bound to the inevitable destruction of the city.
As a part of our Ebert Young Writers Program for the Arts, we will be publishing the participants reviews and interviews they produce for the workshop on the official HIFF blog.