As horror connoisseurs, I think we can all agree that Korean films are some of the best in the business. One clear-cut example is 2016’s Train to Busan, an incredible film that was listed as a New York Times Critic's Pick upon its release. It was impossible not to want more movies like Train to Busan, and we got lucky. Train to Busan’s standalone sequel Peninsula was released in South Korea in July 2020, with an August 21 limited theatrical release in the U.S.
Peninsula expands upon the devastation that was explored in the first movie. Jung-seok, a young marine captain, rushes his family to safety as a zombie plague sweeps South Korea. On their way to the harbor, he passes fellow parents who plead with him for a ride on his ship, but he ignores their cries for help. Four years later, a guilt-ridden Jung-seok and three other elite soldiers are ordered to retrieve millions of dollars from an abandoned truck. Alas, as they are driving away, the four men are attacked by a rogue militia. Jung-seok is saved by two sisters, who take him to their family’s hideout.
We don’t want to spoil the movie, so all we’ll say is Jung-seok’s past quickly comes back to haunt him in horrifying, devastating, and chilling ways. If you’re craving more movies like Train to Busan and Peninsula, but aren’t sure where to begin, we know you’ll devour the horror films below.
28 Days Later (2002)
After an animal rights group frees infected chimpanzees from a lab in Great Britain, a deadly virus sweeps the nation, turning all who are afflicted into zombies. 28 days after the virus has destroyed society, a coma patient named Jim wakes in a hospital. Upon leaving the hospital, he's shocked and horrified by the devastation he witnesses. Fortunately for him, he is saved from a zombie attack by fellow survivors. Now a group of four, they head to a safe zone protected by the military. But not everything is as it seems—and what’s awaiting them might be more horrifying and disturbing than the virus itself.
The Wailing (2016)
Upon The Wailing’s release, it was proclaimed “the most unsettling Korean horror film in years” (Vox). It begins when a Japanese stranger arrives in a small Korean village. Soon after his arrival, the residents fall ill...and then begin acting out violently. A mysterious young woman tells the lead investigator on the case that the stranger is a demon. After his own daughter falls ill, the investigator calls upon a shaman for help. But who can he trust? Like Train to Busan, the father-daughter relationship is integral to this film.
Related: 10 Best Korean Horror and Thriller Movies You Can Watch Tonight If You Love a Good Scare
Seoul Station (2016)
Yeon Sag-ho’s animated prequel to Train to Busan is just as profound and terrifying as his live-action movies. The plot is simple—as the zombie outbreaking is starting to hit the city, a father searches for his runaway daughter at a train station. A heart-wrenching and horrifying film, Seoul Station is an obvious must-see for Train to Busan lovers.
The Cured (2017)
Years ago, a plague called the “Maze Virus” swept the world, and Ireland was particularly hard-hit. Although the virus does turn people into zombies, scientists were able to find a cure that works for 75% of those infected. Maze Virus victims are now split into two groups: the “Cured” and the “Infected.” Although the former group is now healthy, not everyone believes they can, or should, rejoin society. The government starts discussing euthanizing the 25% who are resistant to the cure, and hell breaks loose. Uprisings occur and murder rates skyrocket. But as the main characters soon discover, there is always another escalation to the atrocities being committed.
It Comes at Night (2017)
The world has been all but destroyed by a deadly virus in It Comes at Night. Deep in the woods, a father, mother, and their teenage son live in seclusion. One night, a stranger attempts to break into their home, claiming that he was only looking for a safe place to stay with his wife and young son. The family soon comes to trust the stranger, and invites him to move in. At first, the two families get along, but tension quickly begins to build. Beware—the end of this film is shattering.
Dead bodies are found floating in the Han River, and the cause of death is found to be a parasitic worm that attacks people’s brains. The symptoms are at first unsettling—increased hunger but no weight gain, excessive thirst—but then turn morbid. When the worms are ready to produce, the infected drown themselves in order to let the worms hatch. A vaccine is discovered, but it sells out within a day. A former biochemist spots inconsistencies in the pharmaceutical company’s response, but the deeper he digs, the more horrified and disturbed he is by the information he's uncovered.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Directed by Zack Snyder, Dawn of the Dead is a remake of the 1978 film of the same name. In a small midwestern town, a nurse comes back from a shift at the hospital and goes on a fun date night with her husband. The following morning, he is brutally attacked by their zombified neighbor. She flees and runs into a few other survivors, who all agree their best chance for safety is hiding out at the nearby mall. But supplies begin to run low, and people are getting desperate...Dawn of the Dead pays homage to the original horror classic, while still standing as its own terrifying movie.
The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
The screenplay of The Girl with All the Gifts was written by Mike Carey, the author of its source material, so it’s a faithful adaptation. In a dystopian future that’s been ravaged by a fungal disease that turns people into “Hungries,” humanity's future lies in the hands of a small group of children. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill children—they are second-generation hybrids, who crave flesh but still retain autonomy over their minds.
Related: 13 Terrifying Home Invasion Movies That Will Creep You Out Tonight
The children are subjected to horrifying experiences by the doctor who runs their army base school, but hope still remains. One teacher forms a close bond to a unique girl, and when the school is invaded, they both escape with an understanding sergeant. As the trio embarks on a perilous journey, the young girl must come to terms with who she is, and harness her exceptional abilities.
The Night Eats the World (2018)
The Night Eats the World is a French zombie horror flick perfect for Train to Busan fans. After attending a wild all-night party, Sam passes out and wakes up to an entirely new reality. Looking out his window, he finds that Paris has been flooded with zombies. Believing isolation is his only option, Sam decides to hide in his apartment...but are there other survivors out there? The Night Eats the World is a film that will keep you awake long after it ends.
The Host (2006)
Another terrifying, critically acclaimed South Korean movie, The Host’s horror begins when a monster emerges from the Han River. Spreading devastation and death everywhere it goes, the monster kidnaps the main character’s daughter. Believing she is dead (who wouldn’t?), the family mourns her passing. But when they find out she might still be alive, the family bands together and lets nothing, not even a scaled giant monster, get in the way of reuniting with their loved one. Like Train to Busan, The Host proves that there isn't anything quite like a determined family refusing to give up on one of their own.
On the outskirts of Seoul, the worst pandemic ever known kills those who catch it die within 36 hours. After two smugglers bring undocumented immigrants into their country, one of them dies from the airborne illness, and the cases spike even higher. The government decides on an extreme measure: blockading the city. However, a disease expert and a rescue worker sneak into the city, determined to gather information to help them develop a vaccine. Flu is a thrilling, watchable mix of action and horror.
Related: 14 Dark and Twisted Cult Horror Movies You Can Watch Tonight
Featured still from "Train to Busan" via Next Entertainment World