Film Highlight: Transsiberian
Though not one for literal smoke and mirrors, master of horror Brad Anderson, with his panache for arousing fear from harried reality and rotted atmosphere, is still a shaman. In his latest spooker, Anderson locates dread not just inside his characters' psyches but also in the lines across a babushka's face, the insides of a Matryoshka doll, and Ben Kingsley's fur cap. The setting this time is the wintriest wasteland of Siberia, through which a train lumbers toward Moscow from China with a bobble-headed Christian dweeb (Woody Harrelson) and his wife Jessie (Emily Mortimer) on board, plus a lascivious Spaniard (Eduardo Noriega), a fishy narcotics officer (Kingsley), and a half-dozen other easily excitable foreigners. At its queasy best—when absorbing the naturally phantasmagoric vibes of Siberia and surveying Jessie's grueling efforts to discard a backpack filled with unwanted goods—Transsiberian subtly critiques our American sense of privilege. But just as nasty as the titular mode of transport is the script's wanton declaration of theme and a cynical and fashionable belief in moral grayness that may complement the frosty setting but nonetheless feels easy.
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