Directed by Gideon Raff
Starring Thora Birch, Derek Magyar, Gideon Emery, Kavan Reece, Gloria Votsis, Koina Ruseva
Released on October 16, 2008
Running time 1h 34m
Rated R (originally NC-17)
Let’s talk about copycat movies. For example, the James Bond movie Moonraker. It ended with James Bond in space, with a bunch of guys fighting in small spaceships firing lasers at each other. This was an obvious capitalization on Star Wars, which had just come out two years prior. Martin Scorcese would also recycle his story from Goodfellas in Casino, and again in The Wolf of Wall Street. Or some more recent examples: Man of Steel having pretty much the exact same story as Batman Begins. Divergent being a Hunger Games wannabe, with Hunger Games being a ripoff of Battle Royale.
And then we have Train…which is a cheap, less gory, less disturbing Hostel wannabe. And I didn’t even LIKE Hostel that much. In fact, I found Hostel to be violent for the sake of being violent, and sexy for the sake of having boobs. Yes, one half of it was entirely dedicated to sex, while the other half was solely dedicated to onscreen violence. And these two halves were separated by about five minutes or less of a transition.
We begin with brief shots of desecrated, desiccated, disemboweled, eviscerated, and/or vivisected corpses as one man skins one. Skinning? Really? It just looks like you painted the corpse’s front side red. Considering that this movie is a cheap version of Hostel on a train, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were that cheap. Sigh. By the way, way to go, movie. You just revealed to us why the freaking train is bad news. At least in Hostel they saved it for about halfway through.
The first third is pretty much dedicated to establishing our group of four (I think) college students, their assistant coach, and their coach as unlikeable crapheads. They are part of a co-ed American wrestling team that is heading to Odessa, Ukraine to compete in the next round of some championship. Of these five, one is the assistant coach, and the other four are actual wrestlers. Two are horny as hell, and the assistant coach is a junkie. The night when they stop in (insert anonymous eastern European city here), they sneak out of their hotel to go to this underground club that bears a distinct resemblance to S&M. We get our complimentary boobs that we were promised, and the group leaves the club after two of them get into a fight for some reason. They get back to the hotel too late to catch the train to Odessa, and their coach who is there waiting for them berates them. I liked the coach. Past tense. Once the group got on the next train to Odessa, I soon lost my liking for him. As I was saying, the group meets an immediately suspicious blonde who gets them on the next train to Odessa.
These are some incredibly stupid actions on the part of these five people. This is exactly why I don’t screw around when I’m on a trip with my former choir or band (I was never on a wrestling team).
Oh, and by the way, I won’t address the characters by their names, because I don’t remember them. There’s Thora Birch playing our main chick. There’s her buzzcut boyfriend. There’s the junkie assistant coach. And there’s two others whose identities escape me. But frankly, I don’t care, because – spoilers – they’ll all (except Birch) be dead by the end of the movie.
Things start to look suspicious when two European perverts take the group’s passports and burn them without their knowledge, and the blonde briefly takes over the part of Natalya and Svetlana from Hostel. She seduces the coach, and they go into her cabin to have sex. Odd place to have sex – on a train. Meanwhile, the five play Truth or Dare, and the assistant coach dares the buzzcut boyfriend to run from one end of the train to the other in his underwear. He gets to That One Particular Car. And then it gets real when a guy corners Buzzcut and impales him. Blonde Chick, before she and Coach can have sex, sticks a needle in his neck and sedates him. Coach wakes up to see somebody disemboweling him. Buzzcut also has his ribcage crudely broken open, spine crudely severed, and eyes crudely removed.
But screw all of the incredibly unpleasant torture sequences that are so few and far between. “Unpleasant”, not “disturbing”. At least the torture scenes in Saw, Hostel, Martyrs, A L’Interieur, The Human Centipede, Wolf Creek, The Last House on the Left, The Loved Ones, Kill List, Oldboy, Ichi the Killer, Imprint, Audition, Frontiere(s), and plenty of others had purpose and structure, despite me not necessarily liking many of these. Train’s surprisingly few and tame torture scenes lack both. Sure, they’re violent. But they are nothing compared to the cringe-worthy moments of all of the aforementioned films.
Frankly, the ineptitude of the torture scenes and getting the overall idea that this desperately wants to be Hostel is starting to overwhelm me – I’m just going to try to finish this up quick.
Thora is briefly captured and is about to be raped by the two European guys, who fight over who gets to go first. You know, guys, there’s a better way to go about this. Have you ever heard of the term “pig roasting”?
(Readers slap me in the face) I deserve that.
Anyway, the Other Couple meets their ends, as one is vivisected, and one is dropped off at a military checkpoint as a sex slave bribe. And Thora Birch makes no attempt to rescue her.
The train arrives at a huge medieval-esque hospital, where a disguised Thora finds the assistant coach badly injured but alive. They make their escape, but when Thora leaves him behind briefly, he is found by Blonde Chick’s thugs and has his head crushed with a rock offscreen. For a Hostel wannabe, that was a missed opportunity.
Thora returns to the train, which pulls away again. She kills Blonde Chick and her thugs, douses the train in gasoline, and sets it afire. She uncouples the last car, gets out, looks over a bridge, and is attacked by a surviving thug. She subdues him with his own axe. One nitpick – she chops him in his belly with the axe, but she doesn’t go nearly deep enough to break the abdominal muscles. So why is a loop of his intestines hanging out when the gash was much higher than where the intestines should be? Anyway, Thora straps the thug to the tracks, and the next train to come by runs over him. Strange – the only part of him that was actually on the tracks were his wrists and ankles. How did the train completely crush him, making a stock squishing sound that you could find on freesound.org? Thora escapes down the tracks. She is seen later about to enter a wrestling match. Oh yeah – wrestling was still in this movie. Uh…that was an odd way to tie the movie back to wrestling.
I think it is just a fact of life that most horror movies suck miserably. But not only is this an incompetent Hostel wannabe, but it looks just competent enough to sink into the mass of horror movies that are bad but not bad enough to warrant recognition.
And I hate movies like that.
Final verdict: .5 out of 5 stars.