GHOST TRAIN (2006-JAPAN)
review by Neo


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Erika saves the day…
When it comes to the horror thriller genre, there is no second doubt that Japan is the pace setter in Asia. It is all the more obvious when you compare the 2007 HK horror output comes in the fashion of House of the Invisibles and The Haunted School. Ghost Train isn’t a great flick by all means and in fact it constantly struggles to be average. It certainly does not help the cause with a pretty sloppy script, but somehow there is still that distinct Japanese feel about the flick, making this horror cheese better than it should be. Then again, Neo is probably bias as cute-eyed Erika Sawajiri is fast becoming a new flame.

The movie goes like this: Something strange is happening in the Tokyo subway. First there is a train accident; then people keep disappearing at the station, including the little sister of high school student Nana (Sawajiri Erika). Along with her friend Kanae (Wakatsuki Chinatsu), Nana investigates the mysterious disappearances in search of her little sister. They discover that all the people went missing after picking up a train ticket, and every time someone disappears, there is a mysterious woman in black on the platform.

Director Furusawa Takeshi, apparently a former classmate of the famed Shimizu Takashi, is certainly a rookie director to look out for. Despite the obvious flaw in the sloppy script, Takeshi smartly intervene suspense and frequently uses close up of the ultra-photogenic face of Erika. It is a shame that he is not given a better script to work with, but the amount of suspense he is able to built up, almost cheat the audience into thinking that this flick is better than average. However, Takeshi is also at fault when attempting to bring emotions into play, especially the unnecessarily stress on friendship between Erika and another chick. It is a downright waste of time and utterly unbelievable to imagine, as it leaves the audience wondering why not use the wasted film to shoot more horror or suspenseful scenes.

Coming from the fame of TV-drama’s 1 Litres of Tears, the immensely cute and irresistible look in Erika Sawajiri is certainly a huge drawcard. If Erika didn’t star in this flick, Neo would never have watched it. Without being bias, Erika portrays a relatively easy role comparing to her previous leading role as someone fighting an incurable illness. She is a pleasant to watch and definite pleasing eye candy for all male viewers. It is probably her sheer presence that makes the film much watch-able than it deserves to be.
All in all, Ghost Train is really a film that struggles to be average and at best you can say that it is watch-able. It is certainly a flick to cash in the success of its cute leading star – Erika and really she certainly deserves better. She has shone to the audience of Asia that she is a capable actress and here she handles an easy role with ease and beauty. However, some credit must be given to the filmmakers for coming up with an interesting premise of train tracks. Unfortunately like all horror flicks, it is full of holes and flaws in the storyline and ultimately director Takeshi is unable to divert the audience attention with some exhilarating horror techniques. Still, this is better than the two aforementioned 2007 HK horror flicks and Erika is certainly someone worth looking at…

I rate it 6/10.

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Starring: Erika Sawajiri, Chinatsu Wakatsuki, Shun Oguri, Aya Sugimoto, Itsuji Itao, Miyoko Asada
Directed by: Furusawa Takeshi
Genre: Horror

Trailer/Short Clip: