A virus has spread across the world, infecting all the adults. When children and teenagers are the only ones left, they have to take care of themselves and their close ones; friends and siblings. Two sisters have been going a long way trying to find food and shelter, just trying to stay alive and sane. Eventually they meet others, but who can they trust besides themselves?
"Railway Children" has been making the rounds lately, stirring it up between reviewers with its post-apocalyptic/infection plot where we follow children - the only survivors. It's an intense concept, and one that is sure to intrigue upon reading the synopsis. And sure enough, it has been a successful movie if you look to the world of reviewers and bloggers. So why exactly didn't I enjoy it?
A virus has essentially left children and teenagers to fend for themselves. It only spread among the adults so now, some time later, the kids have to roam around in an attempt to find food, supplies and safe places to stay. The story is about two sisters, one a few years older. She reads to her sister to try and keep things normal, even when it's impossible. When they finally stumble upon more people, it's impossible to know who they can trust. This virus has created a sort of society run by kids built on fear, desperation, anger and violence, and everyone knows that they are all in the same position - just that some are more selfish than others.
The thing I did like about the movie is that they managed to create a sense of a civilization with these kids. They successfully made it feel like a disease had wiped the earth of adults. It might sound like anyone could do that by just not showing any adults, but it takes more effort than that. For example, you'd need to add a certain degree of intelligence in the kids, without it being too much. I think they did that well. You could tell the children had been on their own for a while, but that in many cases they were still just children wanting to survive in the only ways they knew how.
But sadly I couldn't get into the characters too much. I found that a lot of the fighting, while necessary, felt like it was taken from a movie like "Bring It On", just with kids in a horror scenario. If that makes sense to anyone, I don't know, but that's how a lot of the movie felt to me. I'm a huge fan of movies with a horror plot in the basics going a more dramatic route, you don't need to look too long in our review database to notice that. I find drama to be a lot more provoking and fear-inducing than horror is, so I'm glad this wasn't just another infection horror - that would've ruined it even more for me. "Railway Children" doesn't keep my interest up, however. I just didn't care for the characters after a while, and I wasn't impressed by the group dynamics. I did quite enjoy some of the flashbacks, but other than those I feel that this was a bit of a one-trick pony: it was all in the concept. Children being the only survivors in a post-apocalyptic world. It's interesting but that concept doesn't get you far unless there's more to it than trying to use the children's situation as a metaphor for a society.
Perhaps what it's really missing is hitting that emotional chord. You have such a vulnerable plot going, that it doesn't work when only part of the cast does their part well enough and the script doesn't run the last couple of miles. There are some moments that stand out, and a few of the flashbacks are part of that (one particular near the end was quite interesting and uncomfortable) though sometimes going on for too long. "Railway Children" doesn't strike me as particularly bad either, it kinda just is. There are post-apocalyptic movies that have done it much worse: usually by being cheesy. This one doesn't do that, it takes itself very seriously, but it simply doesn't impress me. I can tell Jason Figgis has more to offer though, so I think future endeavours might be of more liking. Having high expectations failed me once again, as I didn't get much out of "Railway Children".