Friday, November 20, 2009

Train (2008)

Poor Thora Birch. I'm sure a lot of people want her to be a star. I know I do.

A former child actor, she had a supporting role in "American Beauty", and followed that up with um, "Dungeons & Dragons." Not the best follow up, but that led to a starring role in "Ghost World", which costarred Steve Buschemi and Scarlett Johansson. While Scarlett went on to be a star, Birch didn't go on to do much worth of note. Sure, she got Golden Globe for a performance in a Made for TV movie, but other than that, she's been mostly forgotten, regulated to supporting roles in dull to disappointing Indie Fair to Direct to DVD movies nobody remembers. Case in point, the torture flick "Train."

Birch stars as a member of a College wrestling team. One night, they decide to go partying, which leads them to missing their train. Fortunately a seemingly kind lady (Koyna Ruseva) gets them on another train. That's all fine and dandy, except it turns out that the train is being used as a supermarket for organ harvesters. Plenty of torture and gore ensues.

Originally intended to be a remake of the 80's slasher classic "Terror Train", Lionsgate decided it would be more profitable to go the route of torture horror. What we get is a retread of "Hostel", only without the Black Humor, Social Commentary or reverence for Classic Horror films. None of the gore or violence holds any sort of impact. Like so many other horror movies of this type, it's just mechanical and numbing. You feel nothing when you watch it. At times it's almost laughably bad, with the Russian thugs looking like villains from "Lord of the Rings." It also doesn't help that the actors playing college kids have not distinct personality (save for Birch), that it has a mediocre final girl moment, and that the characters in this are so stupid they practically feel like they are volunteering to be mutilated. On the other hand, Birch does a good job with the material given to her, and the gore effects are impressive. That doesn't hold the movie though.

A blurb on the back of the DVD box says that the movie "Takes Torture-Horror to the Next Level." In reality, it just feels like another dying gasp in a sub-genre that has seen the final light. There is no reason to see this. Not even Thora Birch can make it watchable.

Poor girl.

Rating: 1.5/10

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