Last train. Full moon. All change.
Why wouldn't I watch a movie that lays the seeds for me to imagine Under Siege (the train one) combined with werewolves? I mean, don't get me wrong. I don't expect Seagal to pop out and get into any gunfights in a movie that's pitched strictly as horror, but trains seem like a logical enough spot to bolster up the dangers of a werewolf. Heck, there's been other movies that have worked quite well on trains, so I wondered if this one would pull up to the station or I'd find it's caboose lagging behind schedule.
After getting off a shift and having a bit of frumpy day including getting turned down for a promotion, our main character then gets assigned another shift, despite having just finished one. Beat down by this unruly string of events, he begrudgingly takes the shift after noticing his cute coworker also prepping for the shift. The ride starts normal enough, and we are treated to an aspiring example of people on a train system and the many shades of how you can potentially not like them. We see our main going about checking tickets, having to charge a woman who lost her ticket, and even getting accused of being a perv by some rather rude girl. After checking all the tickets and getting turned down for a date by his cute coworker, he decides to shell up in a staff section for a nap.
And then the brakes are deployed and everyone gets sent for a bit of jostle. The train has hit something, and while the folks inside further invest our feelings of acceptance or dislike with their interaction and picking up, the conductor is outside checking for what it is he just hit. On the opposite end of the train he finds it - quite a large deer, stuck under the train. He never really gets the chance to pull it out though, as the camera swoops in for a kill. Passengers are starting to get impatient, as they will, and after finding out that it could be upwards of four hours before anything gets going back online and that their conductor is missing convince the main character to let them get out of the train and walk - despite his protests. Really, they should have just listened to him.
Outside the train, they don't get very far before they find themselves hearing plenty of rustling in the nearby surrounding woods. The main character thinks he sees something, and having the other stay back (but followed by his coworker) finds the gnawed upon corpse of the conductor. At this point, he steers them back to the train in a hurry, the passengers goaded on by some howling. Everyone is aboard, but as they help the final passenger aboard something grabs her foot as the door closes, picking her up and tossing her about a bit from beyond the door. Finally releasing her, the group does the best they can to patch up her leg wound as some of the others panic and try to keep it together. Something's out there, and they are trapped in this train. Will they survive long enough for help to arrive?
The plot here isn't anything you've never seen before, particularly with regards to the human elements. Drama flairs as person X and Y don't get along, or someone gets shown up by another and egos clash. Some of the characters have moments that make them a little less detestable, but on average it either won't pass the torch of decisions around or they just get offed before you get the chance to flip the coin. Body count is very much similar to a slasher in this regard, on the constant up-hill climb as you come closer the the climax, and it does a relatively decent job of keeping you guessing as to who - if any - of the people will survive.
Something I haven't had to say in a while is that I've had a bit of an issue with the audio balance here - particularly at the front end of the movie and nearing the ending. Music comes in strong - a bit too strong as a matter of fact - often overpowering any dialogue the scene may contain, but preventing you from upping the volume to hear it for fear of going deaf from the score. Beyond that, there's plenty a selection of accents available from the general UK region, and as someone who loves listening to accents that's always a bonus. Acting is pretty well handled here as well, with most folks coming off quite believable in their performances with maybe a few exceptions of typical "idiot!" actions most horror films suffer from.
Effects in monster-driven flicks are usually key. If they aren't the best, it all falls to the hands of the director and his camera crew to frame things to work best to what they have to work with, or you end up with a movie that suffers from poor looking monstrosities that bring down the experience (such as The Giant Claw) or flip it into something unintentional - like a comedy. In this case here, there's a bit of both going on. During the beginning particularly, things are framed to keep most of the beasts out of view, with maybe just an arm or leg showing - or my personal favorite just the sheen of reflective eyes in the background that you could totally miss if you weren't paying attention. When the beasts are finally in full focus though... well... you remember that "abomination" monster from that second Hulk movie? Yeah, it kind of makes me think of that. It's certainly not a generic take on werewolves, and how they move isn't particularly bad, but these things are ugly as heck. It's certainly not going to make me feel like Twilight is the worst example of a werewolf aesthetic I've seen. Other than that, things come off pretty well done and polished, outside of a wee bit with fire at the end that looks a little bit off.
Overall, it's a not bad movie. Although the story isn't anything radically different, the monsters certainly look that way - although I'm not entirely certain that's for the better. Still, it's an enjoyable enough movie, and it's nice to see a train set used for scary beasts on the attack that isn't just a bunch of poorly CG-made snakes.