Director: Ross Adgar
Starring: Dean Sills
Synopsis: The Railway Carriage is a psychological horror short film in which the lead character (John) is trapped in a dream like world where there is no easy escape. Throughout he is beset with flashbacks, vague memories that explain why he is trapped in a train carriage again and again. Is someone testing him? Has he done something so bad his mind has trapped itself in a strange repeating labyrinth? Through the memories and objects he finds in the carriage, John try’s to find a way out of the nightmare world he has brought on himself!
In the short film from Ross Adgar, John (Dean Sills) appears to take a literal guilt trip. Sills has the difficult task of making the lead character speak without any dialogue, and the actor indeed rises to the challenge, conveying John’s fear and the urgent need he feels in his attempt to get off of the train.
Adgar’s metaphorical use of a railway carriage to represent John’s guilty subconscious brings to mind a quotation from Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film, Inception: “You’re waiting for a train. A train that’ll take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you. But you can’t know for sure. Yet it doesn’t matter.” The entire aura of The Railway Carriage is reminiscent of many of the dreamscape scenes from Nolan’s film, and the short is suited with this bewildered state in its entirety.
Although The Railway Carriage is classified as a psychological horror short, to me it seems more like a drama or a thriller. But make no mistake, the film isn’t without its scary elements – a metronome ticks eerily off-beat as though it’s a ticking time bomb, and an old FM radio mysteriously crackles, among other things. These objects contribute to the suspense of the film, but the suspense is more resultant in wonder than it is in fear. The cinematography done by Jack Andrew George Watling is lovely, and it assists in making the railway car interesting.
I find only one grievance with the film, and that is with some of the sound effects. While most of them are done impeccably, the radio effect could use some improvement. The crackling radio cleverly provides insight into what has put John into his current predicament, but the interrupting static is too strong, and this information is ridiculously difficult to hear.
Putting aside that misgiving, The Railway Carriage is a wonderful short film overall. Given that once it has finished at festivals it will be available to view for free, it’s highly recommended to anyone.