The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
US (dir. Ryuhei Kitamura)
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Vinnie Jones
Synopsis: A New York photographer hunts down a serial killer. Based on Clive Barker’s short story “Midnight Meat Train.
Review: Pretty much anything coming out of Clive Barker’s head is guaranteed to be gore-tastic; The Midnight Meat Train is no exception. If you are unfamiliar with Clive Barker, think of him as the lovechild of Jack Ketchum and Stephen King who was raised and educated by H.P. Lovcraft. Basically every Clive Barker story mixes a dose of fantasy with a heavier dose of gore, and that’s pretty much what you get out of The Midnight Meat Train. The story basically centers on a city photog who likes taking darker shots of seedy downtown areas, specifically the rapist filled subway station. On his quest for the perfect photo op, he stumbles upon the aforementioned Meat Train of the Midnight Hours and sees bloody acts of carnage which lead him to a state of borderline insanity. The carnage in this movie is pumped up to the max. There’s tons of bloodshed and brutality. You even get superbly done camera shots where you get almost right into the murders yourself. It’s almost like being killed for real! Wicked! Otherwise, everything else is done well – great setting, great mood, a great overall tone to the film, and some fairly decent acting (except not from the photographer’s girlfriend, more on that later).
The great thing about the story is that there is a lot left unexplained, particularly with respect to the Meat Train’s master butcher (a scary big guy dressed as a businessman, Vinnie Jones). Unfortunately, when the story ventures to explain the reason as to why the Meat Train exists, you almost wish they didn’t tell you. It feels like such a lame cop-out. “Hey let’s just show the audience that there’s like this hoarde of monster people zombie things that eat humans so that we can avoid coming up with a reasonable explanation as to the necessity of the Meat Train”… right.
What’s even stupider is how the cops are CLEARLY in on the whole Meat Train conspiracy right from the start. When you come into a police station and ADMIT TO THE POLICE that you were the last person to see a MISSING PERSON who is suspected DEAD, and that you also offer PHOTOGRAPHS of the person’s disappearance, do you really think they are going to smirk at you and brush you off? Come on, seriously. It took me about 15 seconds to realize the cops were involved in the Meat Train scam. Puh-leeease. What’s hilarious is that the Meat Train’s organizers are clever enough to recruit the police, but the media outlets? Nah. No way. The newspapers report the Meat Train victims literally within hours of their disappearance. In one scene, the lead character (our curious little shutterbug) sees a girl leave on a subway with the Meat Train butcher at 2AM and then around 8AM the next morning, her disappearance is already in the headlines. Really. Holy inconsistent time frames, Batman. Either this city has the best journalists in the whole fucking world or someone (ahem, Clive Barker) doesn’t realize how newspapers work.
Another dumb aspect of the movie is the photographer’s girlfriend. Literally she’s the most annoying little twit I’ve seen in a horror movie. I was pretty glad she got her heart broken (literally). Within seconds of her boyfriend giving her a ring that looks like it was bought for a quarter in a vending machine outside of Sears, she bends over a diner countertop and sticks out her ass. I really wish I was joking. She didn’t even really say yes when he proposed, she just sort of… bent over a counter and allowed him to engage in some rough anal sex. Needless to say, I was extremely confused. I guess Clive Barker really isn’t the best at writing strong roles for women (with the exception of Hellraiser I). What’s even more confusing is how the girlfriend goes to rescue one of her friends on the Meat Train, then trips over her own feet, and sits on her ass for like 15 minutes while her boyfriend single handedly fights off the butcher. Seriously. She doesn’t even get up or make an attempt to trip the bad guy. Actually, now that I mention how the butcher and her boyfriend were fighting for like 15 minutes, it seriously reminded me of the chicken versus Peter Griffin on Family Guy. It was that long.
But anyways, all in all the movie was fairly good… but the ending just killed it. Introducing a supernatural element to the ending was laughable… I know that’s how Clive Barker likes to roll, but really, come on.