Sabu’s “Miss Zombie” – 2013 Busan International Film Festival Review


In “Miss Zombie,” a human-like zombie is delivered in a cage to an expectant, uneasy family of three.  From here, things can only expect to head south.  They do, but in the signature unpredictable, meandering style of the film’s director, Sabu.

The intentions for the zombie shipment aren’t entirely clear in Sabu’s latest feature, but whether she is meant to be a science experiment, a slave or a pet belies the cruel reality that no one wants to deal with her.  As a result, despite the fact that she should be closely monitored, she is left to discover her small world on her own, with occasional interruptions by a key cast of characters: the father, the mother, the young son and two shady handymen.  Those interruptions grow increasingly abusive and violent, and through them the zombie’s own back story is gradually revealed.

While remnants of Sabu’s absurdist humor appear every now and then, this is a deliberately paced horror movie from start to finish.  The choice of mostly black and white film manages to further distort the zombie’s disfigured appearance and her unfamiliar surroundings. The majority of the soundtrack consists of scrubbing noises and the zombie’s shuffling feet, and as the line blurs between those two rhythmic sounds, so does the line between zombie and human being.

Those looking for a Sabu film with quick action similar to “Hard Luck Hero” will instead find a pace closer to “The Blessing Bell,” although more plodding despite its 85-minute length.  While this may be excruciating for some viewers, it is worth seeing how the plot unfolds at the very end.

“Miss Zombie” screens at the 2013 Busan International Film Festival on Oct. 11 and 12.  For ticket information, go to

Video: Sabu (サブ) Q&A – MISS ZOMBIE – 2013 Busan International Film Festival (in Korean and Japanese)
video by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine