Title: The Midnight Meat Train
Release Date: Aug 7th, 2008
Score: 3 out of 4
Well, based on the title of the film I was expecting a dumb-but-fun gorefest but this movie is nothing of the sort. Aside from the opening sequence, which may force you to lose a few sanity points, there is very little gore within the majority of the film.
Ok, well there's a fair amount of trains (well... subway cars) but this film is basically a pot-boiler serial killer chase-down, based on the short story with the same unfortunately dumbass title by Clive Barker - once known as a great writer even outside of the horror genre; these days known as the guy who writes blurbs on the back of dust jackets proclaiming some young hack to be "the new face of horror" every other month. Oh, and when I say pot-boiler, I mean it in the way someone puts a pot of water on the stove-top for 1/3rd of a film before remembering to turn the burner on.
There is blood and guts, of course, just a lot less that you would expect from a film that, judging by title alone, is about an evil train made of meat that rides at midnight. The tone of "TMMT" is genuinely unsettling and after a slightly sluggish start it picks up momentum and kept me rapt in suspenseful attention. The score and flickery-lights effects help (god knows why I still get spooked by flickery lights).
The film centers around the affable but self-esteem lacking photographer named Peter Parker --- I, I mean Leon. His name is Leon (played by Bradley Cooper). He is an aspiring art photographer, but is relegated to selling crime scene photos to the local dailies to pay the bills. Also he has a hot but annoying girlfriend (Leslie Bibb). To my utter disbelief, Stan Lee had nothing to do with this production.
Leon's big break comes when he snaps some pix of a girl being harassed by street thugs at a subway stop, and convinces a capricious art dealer played by Brooke Shields that he can capture the seedy, "true" side of New York City (the Green Line logo is prominently displayed inside the subway scenes). Unfortunately, this model is then quickly dispatched with by our serial killer once she gets on the train. Soon after this we meet our Midnight Meat Train Murderer face to face, played by Vinnie Jones (aka the big scary dude in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). He is a butcher of cows by day, a butcher of men by night.
Leon sets out to hunt him down and he quickly becomes obsessed photographing/capturing the midnight train riding meat-loving murderer -- because, obviously, an amateur photographer can catch a twisted killer much more easily than a homicide department. Again, I assure you Stan Lee had nothing to do with this movie!
It rapidly develops into a cat-and-mouse game, then shit just starts to get crazy. And that's as much as I can tell without ruining the movie. But I will tell you that I found the ending both awesome and unexpected.
All in all this is a tight, well done film. Slow stretches of filler aside, it succeeds in suspense, squick, and general creepiness. Vinnie Jones delivers an amazing performance, especially considering his character says maybe two words throughout the entire film.
I recommend it, I wouldn't personally buy the DVD but many Clive Barker fans might want to, as this is the best adaptation of a Barker story I've seen in years.