August 6, 2019 D-Railed (Movie Review)
All aboard! D-Railed has your one-way ticket to hell and boarding begins soon. Uncork’d Entertainment delivers the new Thriller to DVD and Digital on Tuesday, August 6th, 2019.
The film stars the likes of Carter Scott (State of Affairs series, Zoe + Ari short 2018), Shae Smolik (The Sandman 2017, Play by Play series), Leticia LaBelle (Inception 2010, Lost Memories TV short 2017), Mia Christou (Dance-Off 2014, Welcome to the Men’s Group 2016), Daniel O’Reilly (Celine 2015, Adventures of Aladdin 2019), Brie Mattson (Desperate Housewives series, Stay Out Stay Alive 2019), Tonya Kay (Jane the Virgin series, The Fosters series), Anthony Jensen (EDtv 1999, Nazi Overlord 2018), Ben Hopkins (Aquarius series, Chicago P.D. series), Everette Wallin (Bones series, Area 407 2012), Logan Coffey (Z: The Beginning of Everything series, States of Horror series), and more.
On Halloween night, a group of strangers gather together for a special 1920’s-themed murder mystery dinner aboard an old steam locomotive. Here, the beautiful and warm Evelyn (Scott) quickly befriends precocious, young Abigail (Smolik) and her unamused chaperone Antonia (LaBelle). Hidden towards the back of the group are famous singer Kathryn (Christou) and her biographer Marcus (O’Reilly), along with dreamer Daisy (Mattson) and flapper GiGi (Kay). Also in attendance are the ruthless industrialist Asher (Jensen), obnoxiously rude Jessup (Hopkins), first-timer Thomas (Wallin), and cosmetic wholesaler Eugene (Coffey).
Just as the master of ceremonies (Frank Lammers: Night Run 2006, Undercover series) gets the evening started and makes all the necessary introductions, someone jams a knife into his back and he drops dead in front of the guests. No one seems particularly certain whether this is merely part of the game, and the conductor (Jack Betts: 8MM 1999, Spider-Man 2002) does little to settle their minds before the real drama kicks into high gear.
Suddenly, a sticky heist goes completely awry and the train derails. When the survivors begin to piece together their whereabouts, they quickly realize that their troubles have only just begun: they are submerged in water and sinking quickly, and there’s something monstrous lurking in the depths.
Clocking in at 80 minutes, D-Railed was directed by Dale Fabrigar (Lonely Boy 2013, Break: The Musical series), and written by Fabrigar with Suzanne DeLaurentiis (Mutant Man 1996, Area 407 2012) and Actor Wallin. It also includes the acting talents of Lance Henriksen (Aliens 1986, Hard Target 1993), Gregg Christie (Doin’ Time On Planet Earth 1988, Hollywould 2019), Marvin Ryan (The Real O’Neals series, Disjointed series), Val McAdoo (Hollywould 2019, Certifiable series), Catherine Healy (Smoke n Lightnin 1995, JAG series), and many more.
So, what’s the deal with D-Railed? Oh, where to begin! With schizophrenic hints of Murder on the Orient Express (1974/2017), Titanic (1997), and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), this is a film that tries to do too many things all at once and ends up flopping around like a dying goldfish. In fact, the best explanation for D-Railed is that it should be split into three parts: its 1920s murder mystery opener, which is not too terrible; a Horror-inspired abominable sea monster subplot; and then the film’s ending—starring Henriksen—which, in effect, tries to tie everything up with a paranormal bow and explain a mysterious 1921 train derailment.
This ending would have made an excellent opening for a different film, one with a more coherent plot that focused on the derailment and its paranormal aftermath. Similarly, the idea of a murder mystery dinner gone awry is fun, if not wholly unique, and has a certain level of intrigue—there might have been a kind of Murder on the Orient Express meets Clue (1985) feel if this was further developed. Sadly, despite having some workable and enjoyable parts, D-Railed suffers under the weight of an inherently flawed script that dooms the entire production much like that sinking rail car.
On the positive end of the spectrum, one can say that the creators of D-Railed dreamt big and reached for the stars: going bold and aiming far beyond the scope of what was possible. We applaud dreaming big, but it was a lack of attention to detail, coupled with a horrendous plot, that doomed the entire production. This plays out in a multitude of ways throughout the film, perhaps most comically in a scene where the marooned cast are debating how they will ever find civilization as a dog barks somewhere in the distance.
Playing into those big dreams, however, is a vast overuse of CGI that more often detracts from the quality of the film rather than adding to it. While it’s perfectly understandable that it might be necessary to include CGI cuts of an old locomotive traveling the landscape, someone in production got very heavy-handed with CGI and green screens and it costs the film in quality. This serves as a reminder that just because you have the capability to utilize CGI, it is not always the best option; practical, simpler transitions and effects would have served D-Railed better.
However, the above pales in comparison to the sea monster/lake creature subplot. When the train derails and ends up submerged, there’s a lot of screaming and flailing around in the water, but when you see what it’s all for you will snort. The monster suit is basically a piranha man who, at best, could be considered the lovechild of the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Sharkboy—and is about as scary as the latter. In the deep, velvety shadows, the creature isn’t as laughable, though his mere existence in this film is ludicrous.
The positive? Well, the cast commit 110% to their roles. Evelyn is a fierce female lead, allowing Scott to deliver a stellar performance. Immediately likable, she develops her character into a woman with a backbone who fights her way through all the ridiculousness and never once scoffs at getting dirty. Smolik’s Abigail too is no shrinking violet: a precocious teen who just wants a fun night of mystery, and ends up having to make the decision between life and death. It’s commendable that the film provides such strong female leads, particularly considering its oft 1920’s approach. This, coupled with all of its talented actors, is a high point for the production and a credit to its creators.
Unfortunately, D-Railed begins as one film, then shifts and becomes something else entirely. Submerged by an indecisive script, poor decision-making and a lack of attention to detail, this is simply one production that was nearly destined to sink. Thus, sadly, D-Railed flounders despite its high hopes, a solid cast and an initially intriguing premise. For all the above reasons, Cryptic Rock give D-Railed 2.5 of 5 stars.