The Midnight Meat Train Review

The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
Bradley Cooper, Vinnie Jones, Leslie Bibb
Dir: RyĆ»hei Kitamura

Imagine your work day is ending. You've just sent off your last TPS report and made sure there was a cover sheet--thanks for the memo. As your system saves your work and shuts down, you can almost smell the delicious take-out you'll be picking up right around the corner from your place. The streets are cold and desolate, but you make your way to the nearest subway terminal, hoping to catch the L train or whatever the hell runs at 2 am (I don't really know, I don't live in an area with a subway, so yeah...bear with me here). You find the train is empty, save for an amorous couple and some loner. The weight of the day has worn on you in a way that causes you to doze off for a few minutes after you've gotten comfortable. You wake up just in time to see the biggest meat mallet you've ever seen slam directly into the bridge of your nose and everything around it; meet Mahogany.

"If only you had any idea what you are about to get into..."

The Midnight Meat Train is one of the various film adaptations from the Master of Horror, Clive Barker's Books of Blood series from the mid 80's. Set in New York, the movie follows Leon, an aspiring photog, as he digs deeper into the underbelly of the city, trying to find that perfect shot. He definitely gets more than he bargained for when he unwittingly photographs a supermodel the night of her disappearance. Desperate to figure out what exactly happened, Leon focuses his attention on one particular man who seems to be the missing link. A loner who turns up in one of his photographs of the missing girl. As Leon digs deeper into the mystery of the missing passenger and others like her, he comes across a startling conspiracy involving the subway system, the police, this lone man and something older mankind itself.

What I liked: Simply put, I liked almost everything about this movie. It tells the story of a man who is challenged to find the true grit of the city--the dark underbelly that slithers while we sleep. And he gets it in spades. I was particularly fond of the gore, the bashing of the meat mallet into its victims unsuspecting faces. The preparations of the "meat", how it reminds you that's all we are. In the end, remove our hair, our teeth, everything about us that makes us unique as creatures and we're nothing more than meat for the slaughter.

What I didn't like: To be truthful, the few things that didn't sit well with me in this movie were pretty much limited. One issue involves the unnecessary usage of CG to depict a cameo death that appears about halfway through the movie. I didn't mind the scene as a whole, it was literally one eye-popping part that...well, seemed about as forced as the "pickax through the window" scene of My Bloody Valentine (2009), but without the 3D aspect to justify it. Another is the movie did leave quite a few questions unanswered, such as what's the deal with Mahogany in the apartment scene with the scalpel? I don't want to give too much away for this scene, because, well, it's pretty creepy. And I don't want to ruin that. You're welcome. The final thing that bothered me was the extremely awkward sex scene. I'm not sure what the exact idea was here, but it reminded me a little more of the shower scene from American History X than a couple having spontaneous sex. And that says a lot.

In a nutshell: You don't have to be a Clive Barker fan boy to like, buy or recommend this movie. It's easily a keeper. I can't fully agree with the tag line at the top of the dvd case (see top of post), but I do believe it's ONE of the best, mainly since it has to compete with the likes of Candyman, Night Breed and The Lord of Illusions, which were all just too fucking awesome to really rank against each other. So, in all honesty, owning this one boils down to how tired of seeing Bradley Cooper you are. And let's be realistic here, you KNOW you're going to go see The Hangover 3 when it comes out.

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