Road Train is an Australian horror movie about two young couples who go camping in the outback and find themselves at the mercy of sinister forces when a road train runs them off the road.
The movie starts off quite well, with some nice views of the Australian wilderness. Unfortunately, it tries too hard to impress by using sex scenes to introduce the characters.
When the road train appears in their jeep’s rearview mirror, a few minutes into the movie, it still looks pretty promising, but the plot takes a detour into the ridiculous not long after the gang crawl from the remains of their jeep and notice the road train parked a little further up the road, with its door open and no sign of the driver.
They climb inside the driver’s cab and debate the merits of commandeering the vehicle. They have to make a snap decision, and put the pedal to the metal when the original truck driver returns—toting a gun and a bad attitude. From that moment on it is downhill all the way and the ending becomes pretty easy to predict. It’s not all bad though. The movie does have a few redeeming features that make it worth watching, even if one or two of the plot elements do seem a little forced.
Although there are many problems with the movie, the Road Train cast is not one of them. The actors do a pretty good job of bringing the characters to life. It’s the situations the characters find themselves in that let the movie down.
If the group has a bad boy, it’s probably Craig, played by Bobby Morley (Neighbours, Home and Away). Craig isn’t a total prat, but he’s already bedded his best friend’s girlfriend and something like that is bound to cause a little tension between even the best of friends. Strangely enough, his friend Marcus, played by Xavier Samuel (The Loved Ones, Twilight: Eclipse), seems to be pretty forgiving towards Craig and saves most of his animosity for his girlfriend, Liz (Georgina Haig). Sophie Lowe plays Craig’s girlfriend, Nina, who is blissfully unaware of Craig’s infidelity for the majority of the movie.
One of the most interesting things about the movie is the road train vehicle. It looks pretty ominous right from the start; possibly due to its size, but more probably because of its dark paint job and tinted windows. When it comes hurtling down the road at the beginning of the movie it’s easy to tell the road train is bad news. Then there’s the mystery of what is inside the locked containers the truck is hauling. Even after Craig finds the key, enters the rearmost container and comes out a changed man, what he found inside remains unknown.
The contents of the other container are revealed though. That happens later in the movie and the producers get full marks for ickiness. However, the scenes of blood and gore are obviously incorporated for shock value and are far too stupid to be believable.
Some questions about the road train vehicle are never answered at all, like the relevance of the wolves. Various cast members have visions—or hallucinations—of wolves with red, demonic eyes. The truck even bears a hood ornament that consists of three howling wolves, but the wolves seem to have been added, almost as an afterthought, just to add a little creepiness.
How flesh and blood characters can transport themselves from the confines of a locked shipping container to the back seat of the driver’s cab is also a mystery. The idea seems to have been forced into the story as a means of progressing it, but it only succeeds in raising more questions in a movie that is already far too short on explanations.
Road Train is a Certificate 15 in the UK and R in the States; so it could hardly be classed as a video nasty, but some of the gore scenes may offend viewers with sensitive stomachs. When someone’s head is forced under the wheels of a reversing truck, for instance, it can get quite messy and this multi-axle hunk of evil achieves a very successful decapitation. Thankfully the camera cuts away at the moment brain death occurs, but there’s still a lot of cleaning up to be done.
All in all, Road Train is an okay potboiler but I have to end this review by pointing out it’s a movie that could probably have been improved if the producers had chosen to expand upon the paranormal influence of the truck rather than trying to shock the viewer with gruesome scenes of blood and gore. Road Train is the UK title. In the States, Australia, and the majority of other countries, the movie is called Road Kill, and should not be confused with the movie Joy Ride (2001). That’s also called Road Kill in some countries of the world, but it’s a much better movie.