Zombie films reached saturation point some time ago. It seems now not a month goes by without a raft of new direct-to-DVD Zombie titles which is why it is so hard to add something new to the subgenre that is actually worth talking about, South korean Animated feature ‘Seoul Station’ however, while it may not be exactly original, does still do new and interesting things with the Zombie apocalypse format…
Words by Scott Murphy
The movie takes places across one evening in South Korean capital Seoul where a Zombie outbreak begins in Seoul Station amongst the cities homeless and destitute population who often use the station for shelter. While not homeless herself the story centers around run-away teen Hyun-Suen who is on the brink of losing her flat and finds herself at the station after a falling out with her immature and abusive boyfriend, over him trying to pimp her out online to meet the rent money the bastard! (not cool bro…) When she obviously refuses, he disowns her and leaves her to fend for herself on the one night that a zombie epidemic decides to start… Bad timing bro…bad timing….
Unsurprisingly it is not long before both characters find themselves in trouble. As the boyfriend, soon after leaving Hyun Suen, runs into her father who is understandably desperate to find her..
While Hyun-Suen’s avoids vicious hordes of sprinting Zombies (yes, not a film for Zombie purists, these hordes are most definatly a pacey bunch).
The father and boyfriend soon stumble upon some zombies themselves with the former proving to be pretty handy in dispatching the undead while the latter is pretty useless, Unwillingly they must still make an alliance in order to try and find Hyun-Suen alive, The mismatched duo providing most of the film’s humour.
This comedic clash of opposites certainly is a good release as the rest of the film is pretty bleak and nihilistic. Which will come as no to surprise to anyone who has seen director Sang-ho’s animated bullying drama “King of Pigs”.
Also while the movie does not follow the traditional Zombie template in having them run it is in the George Romero mould in that it is a pointed satire, While being unfamiliar with the full details of South Korean politics, some of the nuance maybe lost in translation, but you do not have to be familiar with South Korean society to recognise this is a searing indictment on how the country treats its homeless population.
It is illustrated clearly as the police and the more upper crust people don’t even initially seem to notice they are in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Merely thinking the homeless population had gone a bit crazy. There are a few early scenes when characters note the stench of the homeless and the reaction to the stench of the undead is entirely the same. It also satirises the strictures of South Korean society with many characters seemingly thinking they should/will be saved for the fact that they have been dutiful and patriotic. The movie mocks that even as everything disintegrates around them the authorities still slavishly follow orders and do things exactly by the book. This gives the film an extra layer to it and puts it above your bog-standard zombie fare.
The animation and zombie design is also visually impressive with bite victims becoming more and more veiny as they turn which gives them a look of being literally cracked. It cannot entirely escape horror cliché though as the heroine is a typical female horror protagonist oscillating between resourcefulness and tearful simpering and getting all those around her in more trouble than they would have been otherwise.
There is also a somewhat drawn out process of keeping characters apart via dodgy phone signals and plot contrivance typical of this sort of film. This is mainly made up for though by the movies other elements and a decent twist that you are unlikely to see coming!
Overall: A few quibbles aside this is for the most part a strong, occasionally powerful and visually striking film that deserves an audience beyond the festival circuit.
Words by Scott Murphy