The viral video of Amtrak passengers getting buried under an avalanche of snow is notable for its cinematic impact. In the slow-motion version, it takes more than 40 seconds for the speeding train to barrel past the platform and leave a mountain of white in its wake. It’s dramatic, suspenseful, and terrifying.
After I watched the same footage in real time, though, I quickly realized why filmmakers have relied on slow-mo since the dawn of cinema. Part of it is just basic human nature—our perception of time slows down during traumatic moments. And so the real-time version of the video (which plays out in 16 seconds) is decidedly less cinematic for that reason. At the same time, it’s somehow just as terrifying.