A new zombie movie from the producers of one of the genre’s finest modern entries, Train to Busan (2016), will already be a must-see for both horror fans and connoisseurs of South Korean cinema.
However, rather than repeat the full throttle thrills that made Train an instant favourite, the ambitious Rampant takes an entirely different approach, integrating the undead menace into a historical epic. Imagine The Great Wall with zombies.
Set during the Joseon dynasty of old Korea, a merchant ship off the coast has brought with it a deadly virus that transforms its victims into bloodthirsty demons. Before long, these creatures are running, well, rampant through the kingdom.
Crown Prince Ganglim (Hyun Bin) must not only save the palace from the advancing demon horde, but also thwart the machinations of the Minister of War (Dong-gun Jang), who covets the throne and intends to use the plague to his advantage.
Although referred to as ‘demons’ in the film, the undead menace plays by zombie movie rules; while technically the ‘infected’ variety, they’re more akin to vampires, with a lust for blood and an aversion to sunlight. Regardless, they’re no match for the frenetic swordplay and wuxia-like action that comes thick and fast in the film’s second half. Heads will, and do, roll.
While the period setting and elaborate production design provides a novel backdrop for the zombie mayhem, and the battle scenes are stylish and well choreographed, Rampant doesn’t possess the sustained momentum and intensity of Train to Busan, so don’t expect a similar non-stop ride.
What it does deliver is a striking and unique take on the zombie movie, which should be recommendation enough for genre fans and those looking for a bit of history mixed with the horror.
In cinemas: November 1, 2018
Starring: Hyun Bin, Dong-Gun Jang, Eui-sung Kim
Directed by: Sung-hoon Kim
Catch an advance sneak preview on Halloween night, October 31, at participating cinemas.