You know, Wolf Creek and Storm Warning put me off the idea of travelling to Australia. I decided that if I ever had the opportunity, I’d stay somewhere near Neighbours and Home And Away territory and completely avoid the vicious areas of a country that, no matter what the film, looks stunning, but is entirely too dangerous for regular folk such as myself to travel through.
Road Train takes place in one of these dangerous areas of Australia, with a group of teenagers on a camping trip in the outback. We’ve got Craig (Bob Morley), Liz (Georgina Haig), Marcus (Xavier Samuel) and Nina (Sophie Lowe), who have very complex relationships that seem to revolve around Craig sleeping with Liz and Nina at some point, much to the annoyance of the handsome, blonde surfer type that is Marcus. Despite this slight inconvenience, they’re the best of friends who have the occasional argument, different points of view, but get along all the same.
As they’re driving along the long, straight roads of the outback, they find a road train coming toward them, with blackened windows and a bit of an aggressive attitude. Thankfully, Craig is a tad reckless and decides to take on the road train in the Jeep.
Now, obviously, a little Jeep isn’t going to be much of a threat to a great big beast of a truck, carrying two giant metal containers on its many wheeled back, but it’s not going to stop supremely confident Craig. After all, a girl has dared him to do it.
From here, it’s all downhill for Craig and his friends as they end up in a car wreck, leave their write-off of a Jeep and get into the road train in order to escape a gun toting lunatic. There’s some discussion about whether this is a good plan, but it’s all academic as they drive away.
It turns out that the road train is a bit on the mystical side, knocking the friends unconscious and seemingly delivering them to an off-road area miles away from anywhere. The truck, with a three wolf motif on the front, seems to have a mind of its own and Craig, in particular, is drawn to the image of the wolves, becoming hypnotised by it.
Left with little choice but to hunt for help, Marcus and Liz set off and start arguing and getting on each others’ nerves, mainly thanks to Marcus and his jealous streak. As if that weren’t bad enough, they run into their own ordeals as the gun-toting lunatic makes a return and Liz discovers a ramshackle hut. Obviously, it’s a perfect chance for them to get hysterical and panic about their futures, regret their pasts and blame everyone for their situation.
Nina tends the injured Craig, discovering various mysteries about the road train and realises that they must all escape before it is too late! However, it pretty much is too late, as the friends rapidly become drawn into the supernatural evil of the road train and the visceral power that drives it.
Xavier Samuel and Georgina Haig play their roles as petulant teenagers incredibly well, whilst Sophie Lowe is effective as the resourceful under pressure Nina. Craig Morley, on the other hand, has very little to do apart from be delirious and injured for the first half of the film before he, too, gives a rather captivating performance. Being the only four characters in the film, and not particularly likeable for most of it, it’s a challenge for the four actors to pull off a convincing performance against a lorry, but they do manage it.
The film doesn’t have many original moments, though it does pick up when the evil nature of the road train starts to take hold. The problem is, as you may guess from the previous sentence, it all seems just a bit silly!
It also feels like a retread of so many films that have gone before. Mysterious vehicle hunts down innocent people, with a supernatural element thrown in for good measure. The supernatural aspect does make for some colourful moments, but then the film descends back into nonsense, including the rather obvious closing moments.
Visually, the film is rather attractive looking. It’s well shot, with some really quite impressive stunt driving and scenes of destruction. Even the blood soaked scenes towards the end are effective. It’s just that they seem too tame.
Admittedly, one of the actor’s does state (in the Making Of) that the film is everything a teenage audience needs and it’s entirely possible that that’s the audience they’re going for. However, audiences have been exposed to the Saw series, Hostel and other examples of ‘modern horror’ that will invariably lessen the impact of what is seen here.
In the end, Road Train isn’t a bad film, it’s just a silly film saved by some interesting moments, decent acting and some wonderful scenery. Definitely one to rent (or buy from the bargain bucket!)
Running at just over thirteen minutes, the ‘making of’ pretty much advertises the film. When the cast are talking about working on the film, it does become mildly interesting. There are moments from rehearsals, on location shooting, and the trials and tribulations of an actor, but neglecting to show us how some of the more audacious stunts were created. However, it does suffer from being so short and from retelling the story of the film.
There are five deleted scenes, running at a total of just over three minutes. Sadly, they don’t add much to the film and were really better off deleted.
Road Train will be released on August 30 and can be pre-ordered from the Den Of Geek Store.