With an opening credits montage that features a corpse getting disemboweled, skinned, and disassembled like a Thanksgiving turkey, Train is one of those horror movies that isn’t afraid to go for tit on the first date—you know its intentions the moment it shows up on your doorstep. Even though I consider myself a desensitized horror fanatic, I’ll admit that some scenes made me flinch and squirm like a little baby. It’s a gruesome movie, even by post-9/11 horror standards. (And I’m not even talking about the NC-17 version that screened at Screamfest…this is a review of the lowly R-rated DVD release.) But no amount of Hostel-ized evisceration or eyeball extraction can carry a movie this blatantly silly, no matter how realistic the gore might be.
A horribly miscast Thora Birch and her college wrestling team have traveled to Eastern Europe for a competition. After the wrestling tournament, the four friends and an assistant coach (Gideon Emery, an actor you may recognize from his copious videogame voiceover gigs) are lured to a seedy night club that specializes in techno, red gel lighting, and open-air orgies. Their clubbing adventures cause them to miss their early morning train to Odessa, which enrages the coach. After inquiring at the train station, a bug-eyed local woman approaches the coach and tips him off to a special independent train that will happily take the team to Odessa. All they have to do is walk out to the platform, climb aboard, and pay the fare to the skeezy conductor.
Train is so aggressively flawed, it’s almost entertaining. You can sit back on the couch and pick it apart like the plot of an elementary school stage play. So, the college kids leave for the club at 11pm, and it only seems like they’ve been there for about 20 minutes before they’re compelled to leave. So why is it dawn when they exit the club? I guess there must be 6 hours of clubbing footage in a cardboard box out in director Gideon Raff’s garage.
And once they discover that the independent train line only employs grimy, sweaty, wife-beater-clad European men, the students are strangely indifferent. When the leering train attendants demand to hold the students’ passports for the duration of the train ride, they hand over their documents after a couple of half-assed questions and a shrug. And after one of the wrestlers disappears after being dared to run through the train in his jockstrap, his friends decide to simply go to bed and look for him in the morning. It’s this kind of incompetent plotting that renders the movie borderline amusing at times.
As Hostel attempted to explain the motives of its thrill-killing villains, Train tries a similar move in its final third as it postulates why a bunch of creepy Eastern Europeans would choose to run a torture train up and down the countryside. It’s one of several blisteringly serious moments that provokes unintentional laughs. Burdened with flat characters and lacking any genuine scares, even Train‘s abundant carnage can’t satisfy. It‘s a one-way ticket to ineptitude.