Review of “The Girl on the Train (2021)”

As I was scrolling through Netflix’s newest additions, I decided to risk watching one of the more random suggestions that showed up- a remake of a film from 2016 sharing the same name but starring Emily Blunt. What followed is one of the most compelling arguments against taking risks that look very much like obviously bad decisions I can think of.

This review will, in all likelihood, be somewhat short, because despite this film having a runtime of two whole hours, there is very little substance throughout. Really, everything you need to know about this film takes place within the first 15 minutes- you have a horrible prosthetic injury on our lead actress, an entire cavalcade of awful CGI, and despite this film being listed and advertised as a mystery crime thriller, there is a huge clash in tone in the opening minutes that devalues everything after it. The ADR for this sequence is absolutely abysmal, feeling as though the entire song takes place in a universe outside what any of the characters are experiencing, and the lip sync itself is misaligned at multiple points. When it’s not audio issues, it’s the dance sequence appearing as though it’s something from a Bollywood dance movie- not a serious mystery. If it isn’t the discrepancy in tone, it’s the production value that makes this entire film look as though it’s a TV movie. Colors just pop right off the screen, and not in a way that implies any manner of style other than “shot very cheaply”. We even get these awful looking title cards when certain scenes have passages of time that look straight out of a mediocre Photoshop job. Plus, you can be ready to be absolutely bombarded by ridiculous, cheap-looking artificial lens flare off any light source that is remotely aimed towards the camera. Entire billboards contrast each other as they are edited digitally but inconsistently, so some appear natural to the environment and some look as though they were added in with a quick 15 minute touch-up.

It’s not entirely an incompetent director’s fault the movie is this way, though, because we also have some of the worst screenwriting I’ve seen in quite awhile. Almost all of the dialogue in this film is stilted and bordering on inhuman, only to be made worse by the atrocious acting jobs of the entire cast. There are multiple points where characters speak as if this film was a high school theater production, having clearly coordinated times where their lines are supposed to begin and end with specific lines and phrases. Zero performances feel genuine whatsoever, not helped by some of the most laughable attempts at editing and digital manipulation to make it on film.

I explicitly use the word “laughable” because even though this film certainly appears to try to be some kind of serious mystery film, I spent the majority of my time either with my face in my hands from embarrassment or laughing hysterically at the surprisingly low quality. Virtually nothing about this movie works at all, and it doesn’t deliver any kind of new plot or delivery in anything. This is a made-for-TV piece of schlock that Netflix spent a paltry sum on acquiring of a remake of an already bog-standard mystery movie. I legitimately do not know whom this movie is supposed to appeal to, because it certainly is not made competently, or interestingly, nor does it retain enough elements that tie it to the original film to appeal to fans of the original. Just pass on this 2 out of 10 effort entirely- it’s not worth 2 hours of “why did they do this” laughter.

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