Why do horror movies want you to believe that dirty foreign people from Latin America and “under developed” countries in Eastern Europe do nothing but sit around all day and wait until a bunch of dumb Americans come through so they can kidnap them, stick them in cages, and cut them open one by one so they can steal their precious organs or torture them for shits and giggles? Why is this such a popular trope in American horror films? In the Hostel movies, psychos from foreign countries who pay people to kidnap victims for them to kill, are wiling to shell out more cash for Americans; in Turistas, the locals specifically target Americans to abduct and steal organs from; in Shuttle, the girls are told that there’s a huge market for white girls in foreign slavery before they’re locked up in crates and shipped off to God knows where (probably to Slovakia or something). In this movie, an entire train of people enough to fill up a small town, conspire together to trap a group of young Americans on a moving train bound for Odessa, Ukraine, cull them off one by one, take out their organs, and sell them on the black market. At one point, the outraged Final Girl, walks up to a group of people on train to beg for their help; when they only stare at her, she screams and says, “What is wrong with you people? What do you want from us? Why are you doing this?” They want your braaaaaains, Thora Birch. Not to eat, but to sell on Ebay.
In this movie, a bunch of young Americans led by their goober coach are in some wrestling competition somewhere in Eastern Europe. Played by Thora Birch, Alex (oh “androgynous name associated with the final girl trope” yes!) loses her match because she panics whenever she is pinned, but her hot boyfriend whose name I don’t bother to find out, wins his and congratulates his opponent who gives him a flyer to a wild party. The coach, who is disappointed in his team’s lackluster performance, reprimands them, orders them to their hotel rooms, and tells them to go straight to bed, “no bullshit.” Alex and Girl #2 are sent to one room, Hot Boyfriend and Boy #2 are sent to another; as soon as the chaperones are gone, Alex and Boy #2 switch rooms so Alex can be with her boyfriend. Alex and Hot Boyfriend don’t do the nasty; instead they sit in the bathtub and talk about Alex’s loss and what she can do to improve her chances next time. LOL WUT?!? Afterwards, they wrestle a bit on the bed… literally. (There is a gay joke that is niggling at the back of my mind right now, but I can’t seem to put it into words) He shows her a couple of moves which you just know will come in handy later. Later that night, the foursome sneak out of their hotel so they can go to the wild party they were invited to, but are caught by Hot Assistant Coach who is smoking a doobie on the front stoop. He threatens to turn them in to Goober Coach, but Alex counters with a threat to tell Goober Coach about the doobie. Hot Assistant Coach relents and lets them go with the condition that they let him tag along. They get to the party which turns out to be an orgy featuring hot Eastern Europeans on drugs making out on dirty mattresses and rolling around. Instead of turning around and marching back to the hotel like good Americans should have done, they decide to hang out for a bit and check things out. One of the dudes get into a fight with a Party Drunk because he wouldn’t let go of Girl #2 and this is about the time I went to the bathroom for a couple of minutes, so I’m not sure what happened or if the fight meant anything to the plot, but the next thing I saw was the group getting reamed by Goober Coach at the train station. It turned out that the rest of the team had already gone ahead to Odessa and Goober Coach waited for them and boy, was he pissed. Naturally, he starts yelling at the ticket agent who doesn’t understand a lick of English (English, motherfucker, do you speak it?) and attracts the attention of an ice-blond supermodel type who looks like Amber Valletta. She tells him they can just catch the next train which will take them to Odessa and she’ll bring them on-board with her.
As soon as they get on the train, the group is immediately split up into cabins: the two girls, the two coaches, the two boys. They are led to their cabins by a couple of dirty, toothless inbred-looking yokels wearing overalls—obviously not train officials, but the coach sees nothing odd with this—who asks all of them to surrender this passports so they can put them away for safe-keeping. WTF?!? I wouldn’t trust a dirty diaper to these two for safe-keeping, but apparently, no alarms go off in their heads and the silly Americans hand over their passports. IDIOTS.
Soon enough, the killers start cold-slaughterin’ the geniuses one by one and it was done in a way that someone off screen might as well have been pulling them off with a hook like they did in those old-timey laff-in variety shows when somebody was bombing really badly on stage. The first one to go is the coach. TSTL TIP: If you are a homely, middle-aged, paunchy guy with no money and absolutely no chance with somebody who looks like Amber Valletta in real life, the supermodel look-alike who comes on to you heavily and suggests you two go off to her room IS A KILLER. TSTL TIP #2: If you’re dared to run naked down the length of a moving train in a foreign country where you are unaware of its people and customs, it’s okay to say no even if it will make you look like a pussy. It’s better to be a wuss than not to be at all. TSTL TIP #3: If two members of your party are missing and you’re starting to suspect foul play, do NOT turn to your other remaining team members and say, “Let’s split up. We’ll cover more ground that way.” You NEVER EVER split up. TSTL TIP #4: When you stumble upon the mangled, mostly-dead carcasses of your friends, you should never insist on dragging them along with you even when they cough blood on your face and implore you to leave them with their dying breath. You cannot drag a two-hundred pound dead-weight with you while attempting to navigate through a terrain that is totally foreign to you. You’ll end up making too much noise when you stumble, bringing upon a world of hurt on both your heads. Leave your friend, find a US embassy, and bring all the back-up you can find.
Let me warn you if you’re planning on picking up this movie: it is gory as all hell. There is one scene where one of the killers cuts open a dude’s chest with a bonesaw, yanks his chest open, and pulls his heart out with his bare hands. In another, the victim wakes up on a bloody slab, looks down at his body, and finds himself staring at his own intestines. When he looks around some more, he finds dead bodies and body parts scattered all around him. Which really struck me as very untidy. If this is indeed a business of obtaining organs for people who are willing to pay top dollar for them, what good would it do anyone if the organs become contaminated with germs and dirt and couldn’t be used by anyone? There’s suspension of disbelief, then there’s GOOD-GOD-MAN-IT’S-CALLED-RESEARCH. If you’ve got a whole train of people waiting for organs, you can’t just snatch some random tourists without knowing the most basic thing about them which is their blood type or if they’d be a match. One part that really made me laugh was when they yanked the eyes out of a twenty-two-year-old man and stuck them in a three-year-old Asian kid with no regard to whether or not the guy would be a match. Just because a girl needs a new heart, you can’t just open up some random dude, yank out his heart, stick it inside of the girl, and hope for the best. IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT. And what kind of ruthless, professional organ thieves would employ a pair of dirty, toothless inbred-looking yokels that would rape and urinate on the specimen?
Usually I can find something entertaining in any horror movie I watch, just because I love the genre so much. While watching this movie, all I could experience were disgust and disbelief. The premise is ridiculous—the whole train is in on it, really?!? The actors, while attractive, were on the whole so unmemorable that I’m hard-pressed to even remember what they look like now; basically, they’re cannon fodder and nothing more. It was almost like the killing itself was the meat at the deli counter and the victims were like customers holding a number, waiting for their respective orders. Thora Birch’s acting was nigh unbearable— she has four modes: pouting, scoffing, whining, eye-rolling. She does redeem herself a little bit in the end by some badassery which made maybe five minutes of the entire film a little worthwhile, but it wasn’t enough. If you’re a gore-hound, there’s all sorts of goodies here for you: bone-sawing, eye-gouging, evisceration, decapitation… and an instance where one of the killers cuts along the middle of the victim’s back, exposes the spinal cord, and jams a rail spike into it in order to paralyze him. *Shudder* If you’re the type who enjoys copious amounts of bouncing naked breasticles in your horror movie, this one will disappoint you. I think there were a couple of random boobies in the party scene, but that’s it. You don’t get to see the milkshake of Thora Birch or Girl #2. Gratuitous violence and gore but no boobies. Whut? That’s ridiculous. This, I think, is the movie that made me go, “All right, that’s it, no more torture porn. No more idiot-Americans-going-into-a-foreign-country-and-getting-their-asses-killed-because-they’re-retarded.” On top of that, the xenophobia in this particular film is astounding. Americans, they don’t want to kill you because you’re “special” and they’re jealous of you; they want to kill you because you’re obnoxious, arrogant, and they just want you to shut the fuck up. I have to give this one an F. That’s right. An F.
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