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[Guest Film Review] Yeong Sang-ho's "Seoul Station" screening on Fantasia International Film Festival

2016/07/23 | 1438 views | Permalink

If you are a fan of zombie films (I am btw), you are constantly in search for something in the category that has never been done before. Well, a S. Korean animation with zombies has never been shot before, so here we are.

The story revolves around a zombie break-out that starts among the homeless living in Seoul station. The outbreak soon engulfs the whole city and the government declares a lockout of the whole area. In this chaos, Hae-sun, an ex-prostitute who has just broken up with her boyfriend named Ki-woong, tries to save herself with the help from some homeless, while her boyfriend is searching for her along with her father, Suk-gyu.

Yeong Sang-ho directs a film where the key word (apart from zombies that is) is cruelty, as is the main sentiment that permeates the animation. The treatment of the homeless man in the hospital and by the station attendants, Ki-woong's behaviour towards Hae-sun, the government's treatment towards the citizens, particularly as exemplified in the shooting scene near the end, and the fact the virus initially manifests among the lowest caste of society, the homeless are all distinct examples of this sentiment.

The second sentiment that permeates the film is agony, since the scenes where the protagonists' lives are hanging by a thread are many and quite impressive, particularly the one in the police station and the various hunts inside the train station. Sang-ho, however, managed to include a hilarious scene among all that chaos. Lastly, what ultimately steals the show is the utterly unexpected finale, where a clear comment regarding human nature is presented.   

Technically, the characters' lines may be a little "thicker" than the ones in Japanese anime films, the rest, however, compensate fully, as the attention to detail is great, as exemplified by the clothes and the general appearance of every character. The background is also quite intricate and the technique used, where it stays still while the characters move in the foreground, has great results, as it emphasizes the astonishing animation. In that aspect, the characters' movement is very realistic, a fact exemplified by the frantic pace of the movie, and the same applies to their facial expressions. The zombies also look great, both in their grotesque appearance, with the blood spattered all over them, and in their movement, which, in this case, is quite rapid.  

"Seoul Station" is a unique entry in a preterit genre, and a truly great film.

The film is part of the excellent Asian selection of Fantasia International Film Festival that will be on in Montreal until August 3.

Review by Panos Kotzathanasis

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"Seoul Station" is directed by Yeon Sang-ho and voiced by Ryu Seung-ryong, Shim Eun-kyung and Lee Joon

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