Ghost Train‘s opening shot recalls the roaring spirits of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films, but it is, unfortunately, the sole example of what might have otherwise been a favorable comparison. Despite being based on a true story, the film can barely carry its own narrative weight from one scene to the next without becoming riddled with numerous logical gaps and dumbfounding idiocies, in the process demanding the viewer suspend not only logic, but all preconceptions of what constitutes believable human behavior. Bodies are seen on the railroad tracks of a mysterious tunnel only to have disappeared a moment later; meanwhile, everyone who’s picked up the same lost train pass has also gone missing themselves, victim to a mysterious yurei ghost who “wants what’s hers.” This simple ghost story certainly has the potential for chills—think John Carpenter’s incredible visual direction in The Fog—but director Furusawa’s film never rises above its reliance on superficial moments of things going bump in the night, only sporadically melding sight and sound in ways that actually tingle the spine. Cheap editing tactics, terrible (and passion-deprived) special effects, and at least one utterly ridiculous slow-motion death scene deflate any accruing intrigue or tension with depressing efficiency, whereas the film’s characters—mostly teenage stereotypes lacking any consistent sense of personality or motivation—exist as little more than oil to grease this rickety narrative. Ghost Train cribs liberally from virtually every J-horror film from Ringu to Kairo, the latter being such an obvious influence that it makes this film’s complete lack of social context all the more aggravating. The story begs for an acknowledgement of growing technological concerns or escalating suicide rates, but ultimately finds itself with just another vacant dead end.
- ADV Films
- 92 min
- Takeshi Furusawa
- Takeshi Furusawa, Erika Tanaka
- Erika Sawajiri, Chinatsu Wakatsuki, Shun Oguri, Aya Sugimoto, Itsuji Itao, Miyoko Asada
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