Part of director Jack Shanks’ “Mini-Nightmares” short horror series, “Man on a Train” is a beautifully timed, well paced, and excellently edited scary film. It’s short, it’s sweet, and delivers on a fright that’s completely unexpected.
Esme, a young woman (Tameka Mortimer) with anxiety boards a train to commute on the way home. Despite feeling a sense of nervousness she takes solace in the chatter of various passengers. In an instant she finds herself alone on the cart, and notices she’s drawn the attention of a weird man who is sitting just out of sight from her.
Director and writer Jack Shanks’ short film is brilliant in the way it touches upon the deeply embedded anxiety of the voyeur becoming the prey of a sinister viewer. She’s someone who watches but hesitates in being watched; that is until someone or something notices her, and she has no idea how to repel its eyes. What I also love about “Man on a Train” is that we’re never quite sure what circumstances have introduced themselves. Is this all a paranoid delusion of Esme’s?
Has she unknowingly fallen asleep and is having a nightmare? Or did her anxiety allow something to arise from a shroud to prey on her? This is a short film that will give the viewer considerable anxiety and goosebumps as Shanks knows how to draw out the anticipation of an explosion. I was admittedly looking away in fear during certain moments. I can’t wait to see if Jack Shanks has more scares like “Man on a Train” waiting for audiences.