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Modern day Pandora's Box
on May 30, 2009
This movie explores what happens, when a few people taking the, NIGHT TRAIN, discover that a passenger is dead. Initially, it was handled rather matter-of-factly. He had apparently taken some pills with alcohol. It was likely an overdose. But just who was this man---and why was he guarding his possessions so closely, and with such paranoia, when he boarded the train?
Sharing his car were only two other passengers: a young pre-med student (Leelee Sobieski) and a salesman (Steven Zahn). The veteran train conductor (Danny Glover) visits the car, shortly after the salesman notes the passenger deceased. While going through the man's possessions they discover a mysterious box. It can't be opened, but one can peer inside through some carvings in the box. The salesman takes an innocent peek, that will change all of their lives. He becomes almost hypnotically entranced. Each, in turn, follows suit. They all fall under the spell, and each tries to make the possession their own. It becomes a cat and mouse game, of the highest degree. And, why won't that darn box open?
This movie could easily have been on the Sci-Fi Channel, as a modern day version of, 'The Twilight Zone.' The theme was so similar to some of those, where the protagonist's values and moral compass, were put to the test by supernatural forces. And, how quickly, one could find his ethics in a state of total decay. The suggestion always seemed to be, that evil could be unleashed in almost, any man, in the right circumstances, and, with the right temptations. The NIGHT TRAIN is no exception, as it explores these human dynamics and the effects of primal greed.
While I recommend this film for those that enjoy the type of stories told in the old, 'Twilight Zone' series, be warned that the acting is 'B' movie grade. Leelee Sobieski delivers the best performance, showing the most unexpected character change, followed by Steve Zahn. Danny Glover was just, well, Danny Glover. He wasn't challenged enough by this role to stray from his customary style and affect. Secondary characters were minimally developed. They simply drove the story along, or presented obstacles. You will also need to suspend some disbelief. Like why were there so few passengers on this train---and why were they spread so far apart? In some instances, there was only one passenger per train car. It was an unlikely scenario to set the stage.
I watched the Blu-ray version and found the audio/video experience to be quite good. There is also almost an hour's worth of Bonus Features, following this 91 minute film. It is rated 'R', for violent content and some language, so it's not for youngsters.
I can't recommend that you run out and purchase this one, without renting it, first. I picked it up as a rental after reading the synopsis. It hooked me! I had to take the mystery to closure, to learn more about that crazy box, but I think one viewing is enough for me. Did the box ever open? I'm not tellin'. I recommend you grab some popcorn, and hop on board the blood-train to find out. 'ALL A-B-O-A-R-D!'