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What a train wreck,
This review is from: Train [DVD] (DVD)
Well, where to begin. I'm an avid horror fan - everything from haunted houses to gorefests, I'm there. I'd barely heard of this title but, having seen this crop up in some personal top ten lists, decided to give it a go.
Train finds it difficult to compete with other horror movies on any level. If you're a gore fan, the big set pieces aren't particularly well done and most of the "shocking" scenes we've seen a million times before. While I don't enjoy "torture porn" very much it doesn't bother me, and I can appreciate well done effects and the stamina needed to endure such scenes. There's one point where one of the main characters is dragged away from the train, presumably to meet a sticky end, and the camera cuts back to the passengers looking on (in what? Horror? Ambivalence?). Surely this is completely against the premise of such gory films? Why cut away before a scene that is supposedly part of the selling point of your movie? It seems strangely squeamish for a film which claims to compete with Hostel.
It is to be expected that character development will fall short in films such as these, but Train is on a whole other level. It is unclear whether the antagonists are masochistic and enjoy their work, or are simply following orders - indeed, apart from one woman and the conductor whose uniform is his identifier, all the "villains" fade into one insultingly stereotypical mess. One guy has an axe, so I suppose he stands out. The other passengers simply stand by, and don't even react to the horrors in which the protagonists find themselves. While I can see that this might be intentional to highlight the extremes to which people can turn a blind eye - and one scene in which Birch confronts them points to this - the film is so poorly written that these messages are pretty much lost. The background characters are cardboard cutouts whose entire purpose is to point and stare blankly. When it is revealed that many of them (and I apologize if this is a spoiler) are on the train to recieve organ transplants stolen from the american travellers, their ambivalence makes a lot more sense, but it still makes for dull viewing.
The main characters are also wasted: I found that I could not identify with the protagonists at all, nor did I particularly care what happened to them. None of them have convincing characteristics or behave realistically. For example, two dodgy men in stained vests approach Birch and ask for the group's passports, "to stop them from getting stolen". She complies! Who in their right mind would give up their passports to these people??
It is difficult to find anything good about Train. The story plods along in a predicable fashion, with very little tension or build up, and the scares are minimal. The gore - arguably the easiest part of the movie to pull off effectively - falls completely flat and fails to be either convincing or shocking. In my opinion it's best avoided, probably in favour of something like Martyrs, Hostel, Ichi the Killer or even Braindead if gore is your thing.