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Review: Train Ride (2000)

Directed by: Rel Dowdell | 90 minutes | drama | Actors: , , , , , , , , , Rel Dowdell, , , Kevin Watson, , Greg Horos , Earl Jones, , Terrence Thomas, Sean Anderson

There are creeps and there are utterly scary creeps. Will (Wood Harris) falls into the latter category. The actor, who in addition to his regular role in TV series “The Wire” also played in Richard Kelly’s ‘Southland Tales’ and ‘Remember the Titans’ alongside , knows his performance in Rel Dowdell’s ‘Train Ride’ is a memorable one. , convincing role. His Will is horrifyingly wicked, cunning, ruthless and selfish. Thanks to the smashing beginning of the , there is no doubt about the outcome and fate that awaits his character; yet it’s a bittersweet ending and you would rather have him endure the same emotional pain as his victims. ‘Train Ride’ by independent filmmaker Rel Dowdell is about date rape,

Date rape is one of the most common crimes at universities worldwide and ‘Train Ride’ deserves a wide audience for that reason alone. Katrina, Stefanie and Tandy are freshmanand are full of good intentions to keep their college career on the right track. When Katrina and Stefanie are invited by Will to a “private party” at his house, they initially hold back, preferring to go to college. But Will insists: he calls them and the girls giggle. They drum up Tandy so that there are three ladies for the three gentlemen who will be present at the party. It soon becomes very fun and the six young people play a game of Truth or dare, in which the girls’ reserves are put to the test. When it’s too late for Tandy and Stefanie, they go home, but Katrina still wants to stay. Meanwhile, Will puts some Rohypnol in Katrina’s wine and brags about it to his friend Ellis (Russell Hornsby). The other comrade, Ron (Thomas Braxton Jr. ) has since fallen asleep and gets nothing from the whole thing, but is nastily framed by his two “friends”. However, Ellis also finds out how real the friendship between him and Will is when Will records the rape of Katrina, which irrevocably follows, on video and cleverly stays out of the picture.

‘Train Ride’ is a strongly acted and convincing drama, in which the dialogues and characters could be taken straight from life. The consequences of the date rape become disconcertingly clear, when Katrina proves unable to give a place to what is happening. Since she can barely remember what happened, she does not know whether she may have given permission and this ignorance gnaws at the poor girl. Girlfriend Stefanie can hardly help her, but in the end plays an important role in the retaliation for the horrible act. The film initially seems to be heading for a standard ending, but thanks to a number of developments, the film manages to surprise.

Rel Dowdell was the first African-American film student to win the annual Summer Redstone Film Festival, with his thesis for the short film that formed the basis of this feature in 1996. Both Emmy winner Esther Rolle, who soon after filmed her role in ‘Train Ride’ died when Russell Hornsby participated in this project of the student and the powerful message of the film made them return for the ninety minute version, Esther Rolle even against the advice of her treating physician. The low budget of the film is evident here and there in the technical completion, such as the difference in volume between the scenes, but fortunately nowhere in the story or the acting. Besides the fantastic acting performance of Wood Harris, rap star MC Lyte also manages to impress with her portrayal of Katrina. The hip-hop soundtrack supports the film very well. ‘Train Ride’ is not a film to make you happy, but a film that makes you think.

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