[Review] D-Railed is a D-Grade Bore
D-Railed is a movie that gives top billing to Lance Henriksen for approximately ten minutes of screentime that bookends this otherwise forgettable story that tries to do too much with too little. The first act is promising as it introduces the characters who are spending Halloween on The Murder Mystery Train. I have a softspot for Murder Mystery parties. And I love it when sitcoms or shows devote an episode to it, like the Saved by the Bell “Mystery Weekend” episode. Yes, I just dated myself. No, I don’t care.
So when we’re introduced to Evelyn (Carter Scott), who got a ticket to see her friend Daisy (Brie Mattson) perform, Eugene (Logan Coffey), a cosmetics salesman who’s done these things 15 times, the kid Abigail (Shae Smolik), who’s on the trip with her nanny Antonia (Leticia LaBelle) and other assorted characters, all dressed in their finest 19th century garbs, I smiled. It’s full of stock characters like this and like the mysterious Clyde (Ben Hopkins), who pulls out a gun at one point and proclaims that this is actually a robbery and not part of the show.
The first act moves along at a nice pace, but throws some wrinkles into the story. At dinner, for instance, Evelyn sees a cockroach on the table, but no one else does. And when her plate is taken away, it reveals even more of the roaches and she jumps. But they’re gone in an instant and no one sees them. I would have jumped, too. It’s pretty lousy CG. Later, Abigail sees black liquid oozing down her arm.
Through a variety of zany events, the first act ends with the train speeding down the track, derailing--or is that d-railing?--and then careening over the side of a bluff and into the dark water below. And while the survivors must try to salvage their situation as their train car starts to slowly sink, there’s something else out there in the water with them...and it wants to eat them for dinner. Or something.
There’s a lot going on in director Dale Fabrigar (also the director), Suzanne DeLaurentiis and Everette Wallin’s script. Each act feels divorced from the previous act and plot point. It’s a murder mystery party, a diaster pic, a creature feature and...a ghost story? Maybe? I’m uncertain about the last part. It relies heavily on effects work that either doesn’t work (the roaches, the CG train) or only semi works (the man-in-a-suit creature effects) or, rarely, mostly works (some cool gore effects). A couple moments of violence had me cackling in spite of myself, particularly towards the end as the creatures eats people.
The biggest issue I have is that it’s filmed so poorly. D-Railed is filled with static shots, filmed so darkly it’s impossible to tell the characters apart (Game of Thrones’ “The Long Night” complainers stay away). The moments that are obviously supposed to be creepy or elicit jumps are staged so poorly. Everything feels just a little bit...off. The narrative just gets more and more ridiculous, particularly as the ending tries to add a twist that just...doesn’t work. I can forgive bad effects or cheesy characters and writing in my B-grade movies (see Crossbreed, for reference). But D-Railed makes the cardinal sin of being boring.
I hope Lance got a decent paycheck, at least.