Monday, January 13, 2014

Film Review: Ghost Train (2006)

Ghost Train (Review)
Japan/2006
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If you're a fan of Japanese horror, you'll probably be stuck in the middle..."

A young boy, Takeshi, finds a train ticket in a red card holder. Afterward, woman in black tells him he's going to die. The next day, Takeshi goes missing, and Noriko, his classmate, finds the same ticket...

Ghost Train continues with Noriko disappearing slightly afterward, so Nana, Noriko's elder sister, begins to search for her. At the same time, one of Nana's classmates begins to a suffer similar fate -- she's haunted by a woman in black looking for what is hers. The film plays much like a traditional Japanese horror film where a ghost is looking for some closure. It does attempt to differentiate itself; some scenes and themes, like the friendship scenes/conversations, have some real heart.; at the same time, they don't feel like they belong. All you really need to know about the plot is: Nana is trying to save her sister. Ghost Train moves forward to a predictable ending -- it even feels like it drags on a bit.

I like the concept and setting of Ghost Train. Most of the film takes place on either a train, the train station, or the runnel, and they all work very well. The film's attempts at being more are also well appreciated. As far as horror goes, there is some light suspense and a few jump-scares -- neither are very effective, unfortunately. I do, however, like the subtle ghostly images; you know, the creepy visuals of ominous shadow walking in the background, I love it. If you're a fan of Japanese horror, you'll probably be stuck in the middle; I don't want to dislike it, but I know it's just not scary. It moves at a fair pace, but it doesn't have much of a story to tell, so it feels kind of empty and bloated.

The acting is good -- nothing special, but far from terrible, as well. The setting is captured nicely, the film is never too dark or bright; the cinematography is great for such a low budget film. On that note, this film really remind me of the Tales of Terror from Tokyo series in regards of its quality -- not a bad thing at all. The music was also good whenever it played. Takeshi Furusawa's direction is okay, but it never strives for more than good enough -- he shows promise, but no attempts to reach it.

Overall, Ghost Train is a fairly decent J-horror film. Fans of Japanese horror, folklore, and ghost stories in general will find some entertainment. However, the film has a severe lack of horror and originality. Buy it at a low price, rent it, or wait until it's available for streaming.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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