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The evergreen popularity of zombie movies is proof that the subgenre is alive and well. At the same time, there’s a subset of movie fans and critics who believe that these movies are too repetitive and devoid of new ideas. The same criticism is also lobbied at horror franchises, as the numerous sequels tend to repeat the formula that made the first film successful. Maybe they’ll send a villain into space here and there, but that never happens until after the third sequel at least.
The reason why some filmmakers stick to tried-and-tested formulas is that they work. They make money. Fans like them. While there are movie buffs who criticize repetition, diehard fans are often resistant to change. Just look at the Halloween franchise: Halloween III: Season of the Witch upset fans in 1982 because it removed Michael Myers and abandoned the series’ slasher sensibilities. The poor reception to the movie resulted in a slew of subsequent sequels that returned to familiar ground. It’s really a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. But the Train to Busan saga doesn’t care about that.
When Train to Busan arrived in 2016, it made a statement. Here is a first-class movie that reminds disillusioned viewers that zombie flicks can still pack a punch sometimes. Sang-ho Yeon’s film boasts thrilling action, effective scares, and a moving central story about a father trying to protect his daughter. And while the movie can be enjoyed for its visceral thrills, it also provides some thought-provoking social commentary about class inequality that’s relevant to what’s happening in the world today.
The trailer for Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula is further proof that this franchise does not give one single fuck about playing it safe. The modest setting of Train to Busan has been replaced with a post-apocalyptic open world where Mad Max-style gladiatorial battles and high-speed car chases are just a part of everyday life. There are still zombies, of course, and they look meaner and more dangerous than ever before. I guess you could say that the Train to Busan sequel has taken a hard left turn and gone off the rails.
While Peninsula seems like a departure in some ways, it still looks like a natural successor to Train to Busan. The first film is action-packed, and it takes place during the early stages of the zombie apocalypse. A sequel that delivers more ambitious set-pieces while focusing on the aftermath of the outbreak makes sense, especially considering that this movie was afforded the luxury of a higher budget. But Penisula also looks like a movie that wants to push the franchise forward creatively and commercially and stand out on its own terms.
That’s the nature of this franchise: every movie sets out to be different. In 2016, Yeon also unleashed Seoul Station, the animated prequel to Train to Busan. While that film’s animation is the most obvious difference compared to the rest of the franchise, it’s also a much more downbeat affair that delves deeper into the social issues that plague society. Each movie has its own distinct stylistic flavor, but they all also explore different facets of the issues they want to address.
Peninsula is the franchise’s bombastic blockbuster and further evidence that there’s no telling which direction the future installments will go in. Three movies have been produced thus far, and none of them can be accused of replicating what came before. If this movie marks the end of the series, the filmmakers can hold their heads up high knowing that they pushed themselves further with each entry, proving that both the zombie subgenre and horror franchises don’t have to rely on old tricks to be successful.
In Other News:
Nia DaCosta unveiled an eerie new trailer for her upcoming Candyman movie. The movie’s back story is told through puppets for one of the most interesting horror movie trailers to come out in recent memory.
Entertainment lawyer Larry Zerner, who starred in Friday the 13th Part III and has been handling the franchise’s recent lawsuits, revealed that the Hellraiser rights could revert back to Clive Barker in 2021. Read our piece on the planned reboot for more information on the drama.
David Koepp shared some more information about his Bride of Frankenstein reboot in an interview with Bloody Disgusting. I also recently made a case for Guillermo del Toro helming a Frankenstein movie.
According to Deadline, Edgar Wright‘s next movie is The Chain, a kidnapping thriller based on Adrain McKinty‘s 2019 novel of the same name.