by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
BLURAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Danny Glover as MILES
Leelee Sobieski as CHLOE WHITE
Steve Zahn as PETER DOBBS
Matthias Schweighoefer as FRANKIE
Geoff Bell as DETECTIVE MELVILLE
Studio: A-Mark Entertainment
Directed by: Brian King
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A group of strangers on a train discover a dead body among them, and they try to decide how to handle it. Things get tense when they find the dead body was carrying a package filled with valuables. What starts our as a simple plan to dump the body and keep the valuables gets more and more complex as their greed and betrayal gets the best of them.
WHAT I LIKED
There’s a prevailing wisdom out there that films that go direct to home video and skip a major theatrical release are all bad. Movies like “Night Train” prove to be the exception to this rule. While “Night Train” would not have necessarily survived a wide theatrical release, it is still a pretty slick film with strong execution.
The movie uses some common archetypes, like strangers on a train and the power of human greed, and in this sense it really feels like a feature-length version of a “Twilight Zone” episode. There’s a lot more to it than just a bunch of people trying to get their hands on treasure. While not always entirely realistic, “Night Train” was a compelling film that achieved the level of creepiness and contemplation that it seemed to have set out for.
Additionally, the acting is quite good, considering the small budget and intimate setting. You can expect this sort of thing from Danny Glover, but even Leelee Sobieski (who seems to have dropped from the celebrity radar in recent years) and the rather cheeky Steve Zahn, do fine jobs and fit their characters well. In particular, Leelee Sobieski delivers a strong performance as a woman who has quite a few surprises up her sleeve.
I wouldn’t say that “Night Train” is a great work of speculative fiction, but it is decadently entertaining, especially for someone like me who has seen more than my fair share of “Twilight Zone” style fiction on releases that go straight to the home video market.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Because of its low budget and surprisingly good storyline, there’s some elements of the film that stand out as amateurish, especially in light of how much I enjoyed the movie. In particular, the special effects looked rather canned, often blurring the image to avoid scrutiny. All of the train shots were done in the computer, and at times that’s painfully noticeable.
As much as I like this style of “Twilight Zone” filmmaking, it is a hard genre to get perfect. There’s really only about an hour of plot in the film, and while the running time is a slim 91 minutes, it does tend to get a bit talky to pad out the movie. Also, as refreshing as it was to watch this film, I will admit that I have seen a lot of what it has to offer before.
The Blu-ray comes with a decent amount of special features, including a photo gallery and a trailer. There’s also a featurette called “Night Train: The Making Of,” which examines the film from various angles, explaining how it was conceptualized and developed from script to screen. Additionally, there’s more than a half hour of interviews with the cast and crew. Unfortunately, a lot of these special features were shot with a lower-grade camera and don’t translate too well to the hi-def format.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People looking liked the old stories from “The Twilight Zone.”