[31 Days Of Horror ’19] Mini Reviews: Pulse (2001) and Train To Busan (2016)

Mini Review Day 24: Pulse (2001)

J-Horror or Japanese horror is perhaps one of the most unique and intriguing when it comes to horror, they produce memorable films and ones that are sure to stick with the audience. The genre really started to make waves with 1998’s Ringu, and the rest as they say is history. Audiences were creeped out by these films and Hollywood decided they need to remake them, the late 90’s and 00’s were big for J-Horror. One that caught attention is Pulse (2001), a very different kind of horror that played highly on emotions.

Pulse tells two connected stories, where two groups of young adults start to experience strange happenings. One group deals with the suicide of their friend, the other sees a student begins to see horrific images on his newly connected PC, and these events are linked. It is as if ghosts are trying to invade through technology, but as this happens people begin to feel lonely and start disappearing. The two groups aim to find out what is going on and how to stop it.

It is difficult to describe this film without giving too much away, while the story is quite good, the pacing of the film itself is very slow, while that may have been intentional to put the audience through the same as the characters it just fails to hold interesting with an almost 2 hour running time. The themes of loneliness, depression, disconnection are very good and they are perhaps even more relevant today with the use of smartphones and Facebook. It could be perceived that getting too caught up in technology can leave someone disconnected from the outside world and isolated from people. A very clever aspect when you consider this film is almost 20 years old and these are problems happening more and more today.

The performances are all quite good, especially from Koyuki as Harue Karasawa, who gives an outstanding performance. There are genuine moments of unsettling horror, and the atmosphere for the most part works well with the story. It is a shame the pacing lets the film down, it is a classic horror film in the sense the true horror seen here is depression, and it need not use blood and over used scare tactics to be frightening. Pulse remains one of the saddest films out there, especially considering it is from the horror genre. It is worth taking a risk on, and checking out.


Mini Review Day 25: Train To Busan (2016)

South Korean cinema has been making waves over the years and has become must see with their films, thanks to directors like Jee-woon Kim and Bong Joon Ho. Their horror ventures especially are memorable and certainly leave a lasting impression. Film maker Sang-ho Yeon made his live action directorial debut with Train To Busan (2016), making perhaps one of the best zombie films in recent memory. These fantastic artists from South Korea are names to watch, and Train To Busan is not one to be missed.

The story revolves around working father Seok-woo (Yoo Gong) and his daughter Soo-an (Su-an Kim) who board a train from Seoul to Busan to take Soo-an to see her mother. However a zombie outbreak has happened, and an infected woman has boarded the train spreading the zombie virus. Seok-woo and Soo-an must band together with other passengers to survive the train ride and find help hopefully in Busan. Time is not on their side as more and more passengers get infected, and there isn’t much safety on a train.

This film has to be one of the most intense and white knuckle inducing films, there are moments of quiet but with danger lurking all over the place and great development of the characters, it isn’t easy to sit still while being so engaged with the terror on screen. It does follow some familiar tropes in regards to the zombie genre, but the story itself feels very unique and fresh. There is certainly some strong themes within the film, including the father/daughter relationship and the social commentary on the divide between societal classes. It is a smart film, an emotional film, boasting stellar performances and an unsuspecting villain that produces the same hatred that Mrs. Carmody did with The Mist (2007) in the form of Yon-suk played expertly by Eui-sung Kim.

Train To Busan is an excellent film, a much welcome addition to the zombie genre, it thinks outside the box and gives the audience an incredible ride. There is an animated prequel called Seoul Station (2016), also directed by Sang-ho Yeon. That film takes place right before the events of this film, and it is quite different but both films would make a great double feature. This is a film that is not to be missed, if you haven’t seen this one do yourself a favour and get on it.


Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea

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