Dale Fabrigar’s film, D-Railed, has a pretty simple but stylized title. It could be a Liam Neeson action flick on a train or a hip, urban crime drama centered around an NYC subway. For me, it was a total blind watch. I’m always a fan of that approach if I can get it. If there was ever another reason needed to love indie horror, there’s the unknown charm when getting a press kit or screener and wondering, “What in the world is this about?” It’s the closest we are ever going to get to admiring the cover art, grabbing the VHS box off the video store shelf, and taking a chance on a completely blind watch.
Party goers look forward to celebrating Halloween Night with a Murder Mystery Train Ride. Things go amiss after a foiled robbery, and the passengers find themselves fighting for survival after crashing into a dark river.
The cast includes Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead 1988), the late Phil Young (General Hospital TV series), Tonya Kay (Within The Darkness 2016 – read our review here), Frank Lammers (Night Run 2006), Jack Betts (Spider-Man 2002), Carter Scott (Hollyweird 2015), Daniel O’Reilly (Killing Kate 2019), Shae Smolik (The Hatred 2017), Hollywould’s (2019) Val McAdoo and Natalie Schneider, Everette Wallin (Area 407 2012), Gregg Christie (upcoming Await the Dawn), Leticia LaBelle (Inception 2010) and Alexis Safoyan (Fragmented 2018).
I forgot how much I loved mixed genre films. Not just the comedy horrors or action comedies, but also the really unique ones that keep both genres unmixed and separate until it’s time to add them together for detonation. Two of my favorite films that are perfect examples of this tricky manipulation of separation and integration are From Dusk til Dawn (1996 – read our retro review here) and Dog Soldiers (2002). Thought From Dusk Til Dawn was a a heist movie? Nope, it’s about a nest of vampires. Assumed Dog Soldiers is a military flick? Gotcha! It’s werewolves that the soldiers really fight. The magic of this entirely underutilized formula is not for filmmaking faint of heart, but the art is beautiful when it all comes together.
D-Railed begins with a brief underwater shot as a bit of foreshadowing, and then cast introductions as everyone boards the train. It’s a bit difficult to keep track of everyone at first, but it gets easier as the plot thickens. The writers, Suzanne DeLaurentiss, Dale Fabrigar, and Everette Wallin, didn’t play their hands too early and came up with some surprise alliances between a few of the baddies that I never saw coming. I spotted one unlikable character right off and knew they were trouble, but the identity of the plant was very well hidden. Suspense builds up nicely and pacing isn’t an issue as things transpire that eventually put the ill-fated party train into the river.
What made From Dusk til Dawn and Dog Soldiers so great was when the monsters did come, all of the social dynamics and dysfunctions from the first half of the storyline played a part into everyone’s chances for survival, from the comeuppance and redemption of the despicable characters and hopefulness for the good ones that just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. The same thing happens here, and it works extremely well. As the club car slowly sinks into the river, something is in the water that is methodically stalking them. It just happens to be amphibious, too. Even after making it ashore, they still have to keep running.
Watch D-Railed Right Here!
D-Railed leaves the station and fearlessly switches the tracks. This is a nice hidden gem that has impressive production values only limited by some CGI on the stuff that would’ve been too pricey to produce as practical effects. The flooded club car is actually flooded, and the monster is a real guy in a suit. It’s also nice to see Lance Henricksen make an appearance. He’s not in the thick of it, but he is used to bookend the film quite nicely. I don’t know if I agree with the non-descriptive name, but I don’t know what would have worked better… Train Wreck to Terror? The Creature of the Sunken Club Car? Terror Train (if it wasn’t taken already)? Maybe it’s all for the best. Who would’ve thought Murder on the Orient Express could leave you in a ripped evening gown on a deserted river island, running from a hideous, amphibious, aquatic monster? 8 out of 10