Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Snowpiercer (2014) ****

Let me get one obvious thing out of the way--Snowpiercer isn't really horror. I'm not sure how I got the idea that it was, but for some reason, I'd read part of some ecstatic review earlier this summer, and I'd gleaned two incorrect things: 1) it was a horror movie, and 2) it was a foreign film. Neither of these are true. It's a post-apocalyptic thriller in the Mad Max vein, and the foreignness? Well, I guess as a product it is a good example of why national labels for movies are becoming increasingly silly and useless: Korean director, international cast, major American star at the center.

Regardless, it's one heck of a fun ride. It's based on a graphic novel (that I'm not familiar with) about a luxury train that contains the last surviving humans after a new ice age has dawned. The train is powered by some sort of perpetually recharging engine and travels on a track that traverses essentially every landmass on earth. We enter the story 17 years after the ice age began (and thus the train started circling the earth), as a group of poor oppressed passengers from the dirty caboose area try to stage a revolt against the rich bastards up front with their sleeping cars and like, windows. So yeah, the premise is a bit ridiculous, but in the best fucking way.

By the way, the director is Bong Joon-ho, who directed that crappy "Host" flick I reviewed earlier this thon. One thing I noted in my review of that film was that it was a beautiful movie, and that really seems to be one of this guy's calling cards. This one is another highly stylized, gorgeously shot action flick. But this time, the story (while maybe a bit drawn out) and especially the acting are both high quality. In particular, Tilda Swinton brings her normal scene-chewing theatrics to the role of the enforcer/mediator between the two ends of the train. I consistently find her one of the bravest and most compelling actors around.

It's also produced by the guy who did "Oldboy," so there's another stylized Korean action/horror flick in this one's lineage. That's probably the source of my misunderstanding. Anyway, there's clearly some suspension of disbelief required in buying into the premise, but let it go and you'll have a blast. And really, it's funny and quite obviously parodic metaphor for humanity, like some old pessimistic existentialist joke: everyone is dead, you're stuck on train, going in circles. Forever.


JPX said...

I've been dying to see this! I too thought it was a foreign film. I'm glad it's solid. The only thing I don't understand is why is it necessary for everyone to be on a moving train?

Catfreeek said...

I'm putting this in my queue for post horrorthon. I watched one I thought was horror too, Europa Report. The description makes it seem like there is a strong horror element but it's 100% sci-fi so I didn't bother reviewing it.

AC said...

Hmm, I saw a few minutes over Mr. AC's shoulder and wasn't compelled, but agree Tilda Swinton is always great.

DCD said...

That second to last sentence made me chuckle. Sounds worth a look post Hthon, I love Swinton.

Crystal Math said...

Sounds neat! I'll line it up for the post-Thon season ;-)