Road Train (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus considered overtaking Road Train but he's glad he didn't in the end
While on their annual road trip, Marcus (Xavier Samuel), Liz (Georgina Haig), Craig (Bob Morley) and Craig’s new girlfriend Nina (Sophie Lowe) are met with the thrill of being overtaken by a road train. The large, double trailer cross country lorry appears in their rear view and the group get ready for the rush of the massive vehicle as it passes them on the highway. Only it doesn’t. This road train doesn’t want to pass them by, it wants to hit them and after a nasty bit of road rage, the travellers' car is rammed off the road leaving the group stranded in the wide open space of the Australian wilderness. Injured and alone the group get their bearings only to discover the mysterious road train is parked on the horizon waiting for them.
Well with all of the homages to Spielberg’s Duel out of the way the moment the teenagers car crashed, I’d assumed I was now in for a bit of The Hills Have Eyes affair with a bunch of travelling inbreeds ready to pick off our cast one by one. Thankfully Road Train opts for a somewhat different approach and rather than running away as a balls out horror, we get a bit of a supernatural thriller with a dash of the surreal.
With the hokey dialogue letting the story down initially, director Dean Francis opts for a mood that constantly keeps you on your toes. There’s a constant feeling that someone, or something is going to pounce and he uses the ominous presence of the massive lorry to ramp up the feeling of unease well. We start getting hints of the group's dynamic (essentially there’s been a bit of friends sharing a girlfriend going on) and who isn’t happy with whom and before you know it, the teenagers are driving the road train and heading it towards some help.
Now here’s where everything goes a bit weird. With the teens falling asleep due to the trippy music in the lorry, they find themselves off road, parked up on a hill with not much of a turning circle to haul the road train around. How did they get there? How didn’t they crash? What’s the deal with the three headed dog figure atop the lorry’s grill and of course at this stage the question of what is this road train actually hauling begins to slip into your mind.
Really from here on in a lot of your enjoyment for the movie is going to come down to how much you’re willing to interpret from what you’re seeing. I suppose there’s the straight forward route that the road train gang are individually going crazy in the heat but there’re also hints of demonic possession, maybe a purgatory angle and really just good old descent into madness themes. Either way Francis keeps the mood relatively high on tension and despite the low budget nature of the surreal story getting a little repetitive in places and not always working Road Train still tells its modern day spooky tale well and it was pretty rewarding that the story had a relatively (in the loosest possible terms) straightforward explanation as opposed to an open ended question as to what the road train was actually doing?
For a pretty standard DVD, the transfer here looks great. The wide open Australian landscape pops off of the screen with a bright clean image, great colour presentation and a nice level of detail.
The textures in the grimy road train are captured well, the details of the rocks surrounding the strange parking location are great to look at with their oily rainbowing effect and of course there’s a solid amount of red blood splashed about to break up the browns of the dirt beneath the characters' feet. Really Road Train offers up a great presentation, despite the low budget and really shows off the good old DVD format.
Despite the Dolby Digital 2.0 track, the audio here is still pretty effective, mainly due to the fact it’s relentlessly loud when it wants to keep you on edge and some of the score/sound effects are just about creepy enough to work all bundled together in the front speakers.
Dialogue is fine and the track is quite dynamic considering the 2.0 limitations. It's really only the score that suffers in places, feeling a little constricted at times and having the sense it needs a little more space to breath.
The making of (13:21) is a pretty standard affair but has some interesting input about the movie from the stars and the director as well as details of the shoot and the location.
There are five deleted scenes (03:13) most of which seem to be cut for pacing, taken from before the teens meet the road train and lastly there’s the trailer (02:06).
Road Train is a mixed bag and highlights the benefits and problems a surreal horror story can offer up. Yes it adds the creeps with its high tension, demonic visuals, anything can happen attitude but really the cast aren’t strong enough to sell the dramatic elements and in places the movie feels a little bit like it's not quite taking itself seriously enough, especially considering just how messed up this not so friendly road train actually is.
That said, Road Train held my attention and I can’t deny I sort of dug the whole never stopping devil truck spin to the story, so while I doubt I’ll remember the flick come 2010’s end, it was certainly a nice change of pace while it lasted and once again that age old movie road rule of never overtaking a lorry on an open road is proven a good one to live by.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 30th August 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Extras: Making of, Delteed Scenes, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Dean Francis
Cast: Xavier Samuel, Bobo Morley, Sophie Lowe, Georgina Haig
Genre: Horror and Thriller
Length: 86 minutes
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