For about a dozen stops Midnight Meat Train was a refreshingly blunt and straightforward horror film. Then the train had to continue just a little too far into ‘Sillysville’…
‘From the mind of Clive Barker’ could mean many things. It could be Hellraiser, it could be some patently awful stuff live ‘Clive Barker’s The Plague’, hell it could be a shopping list.
But for many it seems a green light to at least give the DVD a second glance, and for the most part Midnight Meat Train is a savage and fun ride.
Starring a young Bradley Cooper – who thanks to his meteoric rise to fame will be destined to see this in various ‘Can you believe that XX was in this when they started out?’ lists – the Midnight Meat Train in question is actually a regular 2 am train, from which no-one seems to return…
Pause for thought…
OK so you’re telling me that EVERY NIGHT at 2 am a whole trainload of passengers simply don’t show up?
That no-one ever says “well I waved goodbye at the platform and little Kev never returned”?
That no-one ever nudges their buddy and says “Don’t take that one, take the 2.07, that one gets you there”?
It’s just a movie. It’s just a movie. It’sjustamovie. Find your centre. That’s it. Think of Bradley… Mr Bradley Cooper… Tension fading. Stress levels reducing.
Bradley Cooper is Leon, a photographer who is apparently technically competent but lacks vision and the drive to push to the edge – at least that’s what a talent agent played by a miscast Brooke Shields said.
So one day Leon heads out for the night determined to get some ‘edgy’ shots, becoming somewhat of a ‘danger chaser’, trying desperately to get a shot that conveys real peril and dread. He ends up following a Japanese girl and inadvertently takes some snaps of her final moments alive.
Upon realising this Leon looks further into his subjects and realises that one disturbing character seems a fixture in his shots, a tall angular determined looking man with a carry case that says ‘Mahogany’.
Vinnie Jones plays Mahogany and it is indeed his perfect role, as all he is required to do is look grim and pissed and take out chump after chump. Mahogany has but one line in the movie which occurs in Sillysville, but for the first 80 minutes of Midnight Meat Train he is a perfectly serviceable purveyor of cinematic violence, and a character I could see becoming somewhat iconic.
As Leon gets more and more shots of this strange man he questions why with all the missing people there never seem to be ransom notes, bodies, or evidence of foul play. In following Mahogany Leon learns that he is a butcher by day – and not too much different at night, *nudge* if you know what I’m saying!
Leon tells his suspicions to his girlfriend Maya, and decides that he simply must get to the bottom of all this.
The strength of the vast proportion of MMT is the violence, and I say this not in a gore-hound way, but the violence in MMT is very impactful in every sense of the term. No torture or clever-clogs stuff here, Mahogany simply has a job to do and he carries his duties out most professionally – often with a big silver coloured steel hammer in his massive paw.
The movie moves with reasonable pace and sure looks pretty on Blu-Ray, the train is shiny and silvery and Mahogany’s suit never seems to get a spot on it even as his savage blows smash heads in and dislodge eyes from the skulls of his beaten victims, though the blood flows freely all around him.
In fact Midnight Meat Train was a reasonable enough nasty little R Rated horror film, one that was teetering on ‘worthwhile’ status. Until the last 20 minutes or so when Mr Barker decided to tie up the implausibility with a twist that it must be said simply made the film even more implausible.
Like the decent but ultimately flawed High Tension (‘Wait, she was driving BOTH vehicles???’) Midnight Meat Train took a good thing and almost ruined it. I think of it as enjoying the first two courses of a magnificent meal immensely, and then finding your dessert has a giant fly in it. Nothing went wrong with 90% of your evening, but still the prevailing memory will always be negative.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. The first time I saw the painfully obvious CGI violence of Midnight Meat Train I was sleepy (possibly drunk) and I went away pretty impressed.
This time I paid a little more attention. Midnight Meat Train isn’t bad, but I just wish it were 15 or 20 minutes shorter.
P.S. Spoilers afoot!
Mr Barker, there was nothing wrong with a basic plot that says ‘A serial killer kills late night subway commuters with extreme brutality…’ That right there could be a perfectly decent horror film.
I don’t see how adding “… to feed to a race of lizard people that live at the end of the subway tunnels” makes it any better. Even in theory.