TERROR TRAIN has always been one of those third tier slashers that never could get a break. Were it not for a starring turn by Jamie Lee Curtis, it’d have been all but forgotten but for the diehard slasher fans and the horror geeks that look for the most obscure of titles to get excited over. It’s a very by the numbers and straightforward film but still manages some charm. It’s very straightforward with no surprises and no real twists or turns.
It is what it is.
And that’s fine.
What we get here is a modern remake taking the same story, and same structure and putting things into the modern day and then seeing what happens.
At first glance this is surprisingly by the numbers but manages to spice things up in the third act enough to make you cock your brow and say ‘OK then, so this is what we’re doing, I can work with that!’.
TERROR TRAIN tells the story of a group of spoiled brats from a private school as they are about to take a party trip on a train. There are no chaperones, and no rules, and the two staff members of the train seem OK with this. What we learn though is that this group of friends had pulled a prank on another classmate that went three steps beyond a simple gag and caused them to have a breakdown.
Not that the revelers care.
Very quickly we realize that someone on the train is not who they seem and are very, very dangerous. As the train gets rolling and bodies start to pile up though we have to ask ourselves, who would be doing this to these young people, and why? But maybe we already know that answer…or do we?
This is, like the original, very by the numbers. Pretty young people being obnoxious and horny and getting offed. This is not realistic, and that there were no repercussions to their prank strains credulity – though, sadly, not as much as it should. The characters are paper thin, but the kills are fun, and can be pretty brutal. It’s with the lead and the train staff that we get the folks we want to cheer for. These are well played and well written and give the film a heart and reason to watch. While everything else gets so predictable they manage to keep your attention. The writing isn’t bad, but doesn’t bother to change the recipe at all. Same with the direction, which doesn’t get too crazy, but also doesn’t try to turn this into a music video. It’s a well made, slick movie, and has enough heart and steam to keep you watching throughout. The surprise is with an ending that has a lot more gumption than I gave it credit for and It was a hoot.
This is not great, at all, but this is a serviceable movie and is worth a look. Fans of the original will notice a lot of similarities but that’s OK. In a sea of awful movies rushed out for the Halloween season, this is one that’s actually worth a look and is a fun popcorn fright flick that won’t give you indigestion when it’s over.
3 out of 5