Today we’re happy to bring you a review from author Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir, author of Nocturnal Blood. Check out her website here: villimeymistauthor.com, You can find her on Twitter as Villimey Mist @VillimeyS
A zombie virus has in the last 4 years spread to all South Korea. 4 Koreans in HK sail thru the blockade to Incheon for USD 20,000,000 on a truck.
Title: Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula | Director: Sang-ho Yeon | Starring: Dong-won Gang, Lee Jung-hyun, and Re Lee | Runtime: 1 hr 56 min | Genre: Horror/Action | Language: Korean (subtitles/dubbing available for English) | Release Year: 2020 | Source: Streaming | Unstarred Review
I love what South Korea has been doing with the zombie genre, creating simple but effective movies like Train to Busan and TV shows like Kingdom that compels me to watch.
So when I watched the trailer for the Train to Busan‘s sequel, Peninsula, I was super excited. The trailer made the sequel seem just as thrilling, if not even more thrilling than the first film.
When will I ever learn not to trust the trailers?
Peninsula is NOTHING like Train to Busan. We don‘t get to follow Seo Seok-woo and his daughter after their rescue. We don‘t even know if they managed to get out of South Korea at all. Instead we follow a soldier, Jung-Seok, who after getting out of the country and after living in poverty in Hong Kong, is sent back to South Korea with his team to retrieve a truck full of money.
It‘s a silly reason to venture into the wastelands, a suicide mission to be exact, and as soon as they enter the Incheon Port and find the truck, they‘re immediately ambushed by a horde of zombies and a rogue militia.
But fear not, they‘re saved by two young sisters! Ugh, those sisters. I understand that a militia would stand a chance surviving in a city full of zombies but how those sisters and their mother and senile grandpa managed to survive is ludicrous. That opening scene with the sisters was basically just a huge Subaru car commercial, where they demonstrate how well that jeep survives in the wastelands with barely a scratch. I know a zombie movie is completely unrealistic but the way a 14-year-old drives a jeep through stranded cars and narrow alleys is WAY TOO MUCH. I got a headache from rolling my eyes so far back into my skull during that scene.
Inside the militia camp, they‘ve got this insane survival game with zombies that they force prisoners to participate in and I was really disappointed that they didn‘t explore that part of the movie more. It was the one thing that really stood out from the movie and gave it intrigue, but nah, let‘s focus more on how well that teenager drives!
Since they got a bigger budget for Peninsula, they seemed to have spent a lot of it on CGI. But the CGI is awful, especially the car chase scenes. They didn‘t blend in at all and it just felt like I was watching a really bad video-game sequence. They should have spent the money on something else.
And the ending, dear god! The ending dragged on so much! It was like watching a South Korean soap opera which feels nasty saying that because most South Korean soap operas are actually good. I kept glancing down at my phone because it neither thrilled me through the action nor did it give me the emotional impact it was supposed to have.
Compared to Train to Busan, Peninsula was a waste of time and good cinema money. It lacked the emotional height, not making me want to root for any of the characters (except for the senile grandpa but I knew instantly that he was going to die anyway for cheap emotional shock value). Because the setting is a whole city, it didn‘t feel as urgent or claustrophobic as being trapped in a train with raging zombies. The plot was predictable and had that Hollywood stench to it, especially towards the end.
Given the potential and the fresh ideas South Korea has had lately, it could have been so, so much better.
But instead we got an expensive Subaru commerical, perhaps fit for the Super Bowl.
Lilyn G is the founder of Sci-Fi & Scary, and leader of the Coolthulhu Crew. She does book and film reviews for both genres the site focuses on. Her tastes run towards creature features, hard science fiction, and lots and lots of action. She also has a soft spot for middle-grade fiction that rears its head frequently.
Though no longer involved with Ladies of Horror Fiction due to other responsibilities and a too-full plate, she was one of the original 4 co-founders.
Feel free to chat her up on Twitter as long as you aren’t hitting her up to review your book.