do not have discerning palates. They will eat anyone, including the dirty,
smelly homeless. In fact, tramps and hoboes are particularly attractive zombie
fodder, because they tend to cluster in group and are unlikely to carry equalizers.
Unfortunately, the huddled masses that regularly spend the night lounging on
the lower concourse of Seoul’s commuter train station are about to be overrun
by the walking dead and it will not take them long to come shambling out for the
rest of the city in Yeon Sang-ho’s chillingly dark animated feature Seoul Station (clip here), which screens
during the 2016 New York Asian Film Festival.
homeless man looks peaked even by homeless standards. Judging from his bloody
wound, he is not that far removed from zombie zero. However, it will take a
while for him to turn. In the meantime, we meet Hye-sun, a runaway reluctantly
turning tricks for Ki-woong, her geeky gamer wannabe pimp. Frankly, she has
worked for far worse than him, but she is still tired of supporting the useless
dweeb on her back. Of course, they angrily part company just as the zombie apocalypse
considered crashing with the homeless beneath the station, but obviously that
was a bad idea. Barely surviving the initial rampage, Hye-sun constantly goes
from frying pan to fire to even more scorching blue-flamed fire. At least the
remorseful Ki-woong is out there looking for her, as is her old man, Suk-gyu,
who picked a heck of a time for a reunion.
question, Yeon is one of the most distinctive animated filmmakers working
today, due to his uncompromisingly pessimistic narratives rather than his
visual style. He calls and raises the bleak naturalism of King of Pigs and The Fake,
with Station’s bitter indictment of
human nature. This film is guaranteed to be divisive, because it really knocks
viewers back on their heels. You might think you know dark zombie narrative
turns from Walking Dead, but Station will absolutely turn your
stomach to ice-water. Yet there is value in such a strong reaction.
While Yeon absolutely drives his unsubtle political
messages into the ground in the first act, he builds the tension quite
effectively once the zombie apocalypse begins in earnest. In fact, the climax
is rather masterful. Ryu Seung-ryong (The Piper, War of the Arrows) is also perfectly cast as the steely voice
of Suk-gyu. Yeon does zombies with an ideological zeal worthy of George Romero—and
its animated form makes it even more effective. Highly recommended, Seoul Station screens this Friday night
(6/24) at the Walter Reade, as part of this year’s NYAFF.
Labels: Animated films, Korean Cinema, NYAFF '16, Zombies