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TERROR TRAIN (2022)
Directed by Philippe Gagnon.
Written by Ian Carpenter, Aaron Martin.
Starring Robyn Alomar, Mary Walsh, Nadine Bhabha, Matias Garrido, Corteon Moore, Emma Elle Paterson, Tori Barban, Dakota Jamal Wellman, Tim Rozon, Alexandre Bacon, Kenny Wong, Romy Weltman, Noah Parker
A hazing prank goes wrong sending one pledge to the sanitarium while the ones responsible continue on to get their pre-med degrees. That won’t come back to haunt them. Three years later, the group get together on a class trip for Halloween taking place on a train, though there’s no mention as to why it’s on a train or where they are going. Unbeknownst to them, a masked killer boards the train and slips into different costumes to get deathly close to the pranksters. A remake ensues.
Yes, unlike the unofficial remake starring Thora Birch that was re-titled simply TRAIN, this is a remake of the 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis classic slasher. It’s got all of the elements: a fast moving train through the countryside, a magician hired to entertain the guests, horny college kids dressed going crazy for Halloween, and a masked killer offing them. Even the opening sequence, which was especially morbid, is brought back and had the dust blown off of it. If you squint at it, it’s TERROR TRAIN, but personally, I don’t really like to squint at my movies.
TERROR TRAIN 2022 is a tepid remake that feels too close to the original and lacking anything to give it a reason to be remade. That could be said about a lot of remakes, but this one really does, beat for beat, remake the 1980 film only to a lesser effect. The opener where the pledge’s initial drama was one of the more shocking and disturbing beginnings to a slasher ever made. In the remake, there’s barely an interaction between the pledge and his intended lover, yet it’s supposed to cause such a mental break that revenge is in order.
This comparison pretty much goes down the board. The killer switches masks and costumes a few times through the film, though while the original masks all had some kind of oddity to them, these masks feel like you could have picked them up from the remnants of a Spirit Store After Halloween sale. Aside from Art from TERRIFIER, clowns have definitely staled in the scare department in recent years and the lizard mask used looks more comical than chilling. They don’t even attempt a Groucho or Old Man mask, and simply rely on people to be afraid of a grimacing clown mask brightly lit and overused.
One of the biggest flaws of TERROR TRAIN is that it is brightly lit all the way through. Who parties in bright lights? When have you watched a magic show with every light on in the place? What kind of scary movie are you trying to make if you simply put a spotlight on every shot you take? I would have killed for a hint of shadow to make this film, which looks like it was filmed at high noon on a beach the entire time, an ounce of ambience.
I will admit, TERROR TRAIN has a group of decent actors. The lead, Robyn Alomar, is no Jamie Lee, but she’s strong in this role, giving the right balance of sensitivity and toughness to be a final girl. Though I hated the character he plays, I also liked Matias Garrido, who is very convincing as the asshole of the group and bares more than a little resemblance to Chris Kattan. And though someone must have smacked him in the back when he was doing a Blue Steel impression, Tim Rozon does a decent job as this remake’s version of David Copperfield. The rest of the cast are ok, as they do a decent job of being set up to die.
There did seem to be a little thought put into the climax of the film. While again, it echoes back to the original a little too much, at least some of the twists, turns, and redirections were attempted. I can appreciate that. Still, the ending is projected from halfway through simply because of a lack of suspects. It’s not gory in the least, though there’s a decent beheading. And while the acting is solid, the script they’re working with needed a few more passes. But TERROR TRAIN 1980 was no Shakespearean masterpiece and it wasn’t a gore fest either. If this remake would have had a sense of lighting a horror movie, it would have made for a world of difference. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that. Just go back and watch the original TERROR TRAIN, it’s worth catching much more than this one.