Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) famously opens (after the credit sequence) with what has to be one of the most famous shots of roadkill in horror—a dead armadillo on a hot Texas highway. The shot is an establishing shot, but it also predicts something of what is to come. The young and attractive main characters, speeding past the charnel houses of a forgotten part of Texas, will soon find other kinds of “animals” who have been left behind by civilization, abandoned by the side of the road of progress. And then they themselves will also become a kind of roadkill.
NR 118 mins. Yeon Sang-ho South Korea 2016
One of the best horror films of 2016
Train to Busan marks the live-action debut of animator Yeon Sang-ho—and it is a stunning debut. It tells the story of a workaholic fund manager, Seok Woo (Gong Yoo) whose marriage appears to have been a casualty both of his ambition and of what his daughter, Su-an (Kim Su-an), describes as his ingrained propensity to think only of himself. When the film opens, Su-an is staying with her father in Seoul, but she demands he take her back to her mother in Busan—which sets off the eponymous high-speed train ride. As father and daughter board the train, evidence of strange, violent behavior manifests on the edges of the frame, not quite in vision—but soon it’s clear that something is infecting the passengers on the train. What follows is a terrifying film about the struggle of the dwindling uninfected against the increasing hordes of infected. The film is also about so much more than that—it’s about what humans are capable of becoming, both good and bad.