2008, Movies

Transsiberian (2008, Brad Anderson)

This film combines the train thriller with the “American tourists abroad” horror movie to create a reasonably effective thriller that, ahem, goes a little off the rails in the third act.

Aside from the opening, which introduces the cop, the film builds extremely slowly for a 21st century thriller, something I really appreciate. We’re not entirely sure who we should be worried about and that’s pretty great. For a while, it just feels like awkward travel relationships. And there’s a nice sleight of hand with the person we assume is the bad guy.

But there’s also so much of the “the world is scary!!!” of American tourist horror films, which I find pretty objectionable. I’ve been on trains where nobody speaks English and I survived okay. I would be okay with fewer of these movies where Americans go abroad and get attacked/killed because they’re Americans and don’t know the language/customs


So I really like how they try to make us think that maybe Carlos killed Roy. And I really like how I had no idea what was going to happen – despite claims this movie is predictable. From the moment Carlos dies, I was really like “Okay, this is not the film I thought I was going to be watching.” And that’s great.

And there’s a great scene where Jessie is watching Grinko go through her pictures which is super tense and probably the highlight of the film.

But things get silly when they get back on the train and are kidnapped. I don’t know the logistics of commandeering a train to torture people but I suspect they’re impossible. Moreover, the thing that happens to that train doesn’t make sense if we’re supposed to believe they’re just stopped somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Like, that other train is coming, right?

I do like that it just wraps up – that Grinko isn’t coming for them as they try to leave the country. But it feels a little too neat, with the Embassy flying in and resolving everything. (Does that really happen?) And the climax is just a little too silly for me.


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