There is something mysterious, deadly, and despairing about the cold. Seeing a bleak, snowy, gray world in a film like Transsiberian evokes something eerily unsettling—and the film's director Brad Anderson knows how to do "eerily unsettling" quite well.
In his films The Machinist and Session 9 (one of my favorite horror movies), Anderson patiently and artfully built suspense with mystery, character depth, and chilling atmosphere. In his simmering drug thriller Transsiberian, Anderson takes the "chilling" part literally by staging his old-fashioned train mystery in Siberia.
Anderson, who also co-wrote the script, combines the feel of classic train films like Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and Midnight Express (1978) with a slight Hitchcockian touch and the terror felt by unsuspecting American tourists trapped in a harsh, unforgiving foreign world. The thriller isn't glitzy, tricky, or even wholly unpredictable. There are no M. Night Shyamalan shockers. Instead, it's got more of that classic thriller feel where characters are slowly caught in a mousetrap and they have to find their way out. It's a slow, menacing burn. In Session 9, Anderson slowly snuck the horror up on the viewer in such a way where you didn't even realize you were in a horror movie until it was full-blown terrifying. Here, Anderson's atmospheric, character-driven storytelling creates a constant, nagging feeling that something's about to break badly. But what? And how?
That simmering tension works because of great characters acted to perfection. Jessie (Emily Mortimer) and Roy (Woody Harrelson) are a married couple doing church work in China. When their service is over, they choose to extend the trip with a 7-day trip to Moscow via the Trans-Siberian ...1