Directed by: Sang-ho Yeon
Written by: Sang-ho Yeon
Starring: Dong-Won Gang, Jung-hyun Lee, Re Lee, Hae-hyo Kwon, Min-Jae Kim
A disgraceful betrayal of Train to Busan
It goes without saying that “Train to Busan” is one of the greatest zombie films ever created; so it’s even more infuriating when its follow-up “Peninsula,” could be considered one of the worst horror sequels of all time.
Every decision made here was for the worse. Gone is the social commentary, the gripping and tense action sequences, the relatable and lovable characters or anything that made the first film such a masterpiece. Nope, it’s all stripped away and what were left with is nothing but Generic Zombie Film number 245!
But hey, at least this film gave us the illusion that we were in for a good time; even if it was only 10 minutes long….
A Wonderful Introduction
As stated earlier, the opening leads you to believe that you’re in for a worthy follow-up to “Train to Busan.”
There’s a wonderful opening sequence on a refugee boat well into the zombie outbreak. It’s filled with moments of tense, heartfelt moments despite only being with these characters for a brief time. You feel their pain, you understand their emotions when they have to make tough choices, and ultimately, you initially want to root for all of these characters.
It’s a finely executed opening, honestly one of the better openings of any zombie film. This is also where the film peaks because it’s as if a completely different director took over for the rest of the film…
Plummets into Zombie Film 101
Of all the things a “Train to Busan” sequel shouldn’t be, it’s generic; but that’s exactly what Peninsula ends up becoming after that fantastic opening.
What made “Train to Busan” so special was not the amazing zombie designs, the fantastic set pieces or even the amazing characters; it was the smartly crafted themes of class separation and social commentary. You felt the injustices of the rich singling out the poor just because of the suspicions of being infected. So it was extremely satisfying when those bigoted citizens got their comeuppance.
You will find none of that in “Peninsula.”
It’s literally just your generic zombie story. You got your noble people, your crazy people, some random family you don’t care about, unintelligent and dumb action set pieces and literally no new surprises. You know exactly how it’s going to go the moment the actual plot kicks in.
And speaking of dumb action……
Over-the-top action all in the worst ways
……it’s the worst, the absolute worst.
In the right film, over-the-top action can work but not in a film where the rules have already been established. The literal moment where this movie dive bombs into stupidity, is when two sisters (a teenager and toddler) come crashing through a sea of zombies in an SUV. The same sea of zombies that could slow down a freight train in the original movie, somehow get knocked around like bowling pins on a Saturday night.
Then you have the dumb cliche where the toddler gets her big, shining moment: she uses a light up RC car to draw all the zombies away from the car they just attacked. All the rules that the original film set up are thrown out the window and the inconsistencies are all over the place. Cars can mow down 500 zombies and not sustain any damage, yet 10 zombies have no problem slowing down a huge V8 truck? Just don’t waste your time on this film, it’s not worth it.
“Peninsula” is an absolute embarrassment of a zombie sequel.
Instead of enjoying an intelligent and fun sequel, you will be cringing at all of the bone-headed creative decisions that are made here. This movie simply should not have ended up the way it did; especially when original director Yeon Sang-ho came back to direct. There’s no way around it, “Peninsula” is an awful sequel to an all-time classic and never should have been made.