GHOST TRAIN (2006) Review

aka OTOSHIMONO, GHOST TUNNEL, LOST & FOUND
Directed by Takeshi Furusawa
Written by Takeshi Furusawa & Erika Tanaka
Starring Erika Sawajiri, Shun Oguri, Aya Sugimoto

I can’t say I’m an expert on J-horror. But I plan on checking out more in the future. In seeking out train related films for this column, this J-horror gem popped up. A little boy finds a ticket in a train station and as with films like ONE MISSED CALL and RINGU, the boy is cursed to die soon after. The initial sequence in this film gets right to the point and lets you know the rules this one is playing by; a) find a train ticket, b) sayonara. Simple as that and you have to admire the indiscriminant way this one plays out by killing an innocent kid right from the get go. Here, the makers of GHOST TRAIN let you know in the first few seconds that no one is safe. Well, unless, of course you choose walking or driving as your main mode of transportation.

Much like TERROR TRAIN, GHOST TRAIN is very derivative of previously successful films and though this one doesn’t add a lot to the genre, it does do what films like THE GRUDGE and THE RING do just as well. Creepy pale children, creepy pale women, ghostly images appearing and disappearing in the dark; we’ve seen it before in those other films. Basically, GHOST TRAIN has all of the stuff that made those J-horror films good and creepy set to the backdrop of a train and a train station.

Just because it’s not terribly original doesn’t mean it’s a bad film though. There are some really scary scenes in GHOST TRAIN. An effective sequence where a teen is hit by a train stands out as genuinely terrifying. Director Takeshi Furusawa does a great job of establishing mood and paying off the tension build-up with creepy imagery. Furusawa knows how to scare and fills this movie with a ton of jumps and frights. Though I think a lot of this film takes its inspiration from the popular internet video of the ghostly face caught in a Japanese train station a few years ago that genuinely gives me shivers every time I see it.

GHOST TRAIN sets up a good mystery with a death no one wants to talk about and a ghost that no one wants to believe is real. The actors do a decent job in this film, though the two main actresses form a deep friendship that is played a bit melodramatically and occurs a bit too soon if you ask me. The story gets convoluted before the end, but the scares hit on the mark most of the time. The final scene where an entire train tunnel is overrun by creepy ghosts is a pretty striking image and ends the film with a bang. I found this film to be a pretty creepy, albeit not too original flick, though if I had as many scares in q train station as they did, I may consider purchasing a bike. If you were ooked out by THE GRUDGE and THE RING, GHOST TRAIN is right up your alley.

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