Every now and then there comes a film that surprises me and even shocks me. Not only does it shock me by the subject matter or perhaps by the amount of bloody gore I see before me, but it shocks me by actually being worthwhile. It shocks me by being entertaining. Hell, it shocks me by just being good. Such is the case with Midnight Meat Train as it had been a film that I was looking forward to but kept hearing it got pushed back and at times totally canceled. Obviously it wasn’t canceled but it never did make it to theatres by me; it barely made it into any at all for that matter. It hit a few hundred dollar theatres and then petered out into obscurity. Hopefully it can find its second legs with a brand new crowd on DVD for it truly deserves it.
Leon (Bradley Cooper) is a photographer; it’s what he loves to do and what he knows he is best at. It’s his passion. The only problem is that it may never truly become his profession because his eye just doesn’t seem to capture the “it” that big time photographers know how to have in almost every click of their cameras. Upon getting a chance to finally have his work presented for all to see, he’s given the challenge of holding out a bit longer. Leon likes to capture the city for all of the inner workings and evil it has in it that everyone fails to see. His intentions are worthwhile and intriguing but he is missing the final act of his vision and is challenged to wait around and experience the danger of the inner city in order to capture what he is truly after. Leon’s new goal is about to take him for the ride of his life.
After only one night of getting great pictures and saving a model from getting raped and possibly killed by some thugs, the inner city begins to get to Leon. It seems the girl he helped and photographed is now missing after getting on the subway and he feels he can help. Some deeper investigation reveals to him that numerous abductions have been occurring lately on the subway with no trace of the people ever to be found. Leon’s new found snooping worries his girlfriend that the darkness and evil of the city may be changing him. His change in personality is the least of his worries because Leon isn’t the only one on the subways at night as a butcher (Vinnie Jones) happens to ride every single night and carries along a bag of tools that always get the job done.
What I like most about Midnight Meat Train would have to be the story that is not only different and unique but it managed to fully keep my attention at all times. Every time you might think it is taking a turn towards the dull or the “too weird,” it brings about something new to take your mind in yet another direction. The story is constantly kept fresh with new twists and turns with ever getting oversaturated by providing too much to follow along with. Let us not forget that there is a ton of gore in this film and while virtually ninety percent of the blood shown is CGI, it’s still some damn fine gore that is going to have you cringing and wondering what violent act will shower blood around the room next. Too many films these days try way too hard to stay in a certain rating scale and end up losing most of the gore that makes them an actual “horror” film. It’s nice to see filmmakers not shy away from the MPAA and just let everything hang out.
The other thing that makes the film so good is the masterful performance of Vinnie Jones and he accomplishes it without saying a single word. It’s in how he presents himself, the way he walks down the street and even just in his facial expressions. He is a man that is able to get in a brawl with someone and get the hell beat out of him without even opening his mouth to scream or grunt. It’s that type of performance that keeps his character strong without showing one ounce of weakness and allows him to not only intimidate those on screen with him but also everyone watching at home. Jones is brilliant and he makes the film even just that much better. He is the perfect villain for Midnight Meat Train and he takes everything that it already is and raises it up a couple levels.
All the blood and guts are shown in a 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it looks really good. The film has an overly dark hue about it but that is intentional due to the subject matter at hand, but the blood is overly bright and looks good even if it is totally and 100% identified as CGI.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and comes through really well. All dialogue can be heard clearly while the sound effects and an awesome soundtrack boom through the speakers all around the room.
Audio Commentary – Clive Barker sits down with director Ryuhei Kitamura for an informative yet rather dull and slow commentary track. Both give forth a lot of behind the scenes information dealing with not only the film but also executives they had to deal with at Lionsgate and much more. The only problem is that they seem to put forth no excitement while talking and seem quite bored. A little more enthusiasm would have made all their great tidbits that much better.
Clive Barker: The Man Behind The Myth – Midnight Meat Train is based on one of Barker’s short stories which he goes into a little bit during this interview. Barker discusses the film a tiny bit and then shifts the focus to his work as not only a writer but also as a painter. It’s a pretty interesting look into the mind of a mad man so to speak even if it doesn’t connect directly with the DVD it is placed on. (14:53)
Anatomy Of A Murder Scene – This featurette goes into one of the greatest murder scenes in the film and it deals with the trio of businesspeople that just don’t “see” it coming. Everything from the acting, CGI, blood, special effects, and much more is included here as they simply dissect all the aspects needed to create the scene. (9:16)
Mahogany’s Tale – Strangely the intention of the film was to create a new horror icon in Vinnie Jones’ character with just his actions and no words. Kind of a cool look at what they were trying to accomplish here. (5:11)
Trailers – My Bloody Valentine 3D, The Haunting In Connecticut, My Bloody Valentine: Special Edition, Saw V, Frontier(s), and Beneath Still Waters
There’s going to be some serious backlash for this but I absolutely loved Midnight Meat Train. Yes the CGI blood really is noticeable and kind of sucks which is a reason that I as a horror aficionado should shun the film and send it back to the depths from which it came. But I can’t because the story is phenomenal, the acting is top notch (by most, and by horror standards), and it actually provided me with something new that was able to hold my attention throughout. Vinnie Jones seems to have a knack for playing film roles miraculously when he has nothing to say and I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s true. Aside from the film; the DVD kind of falters by way of the special features with a few lackluster featurettes and a commentary track that really could have been better. Still it’s not like you should totally avoid Midnight Meat Train but at least give it a try one night as a rental because you’re going to see some awesome death scenes that will have you wishing you could just do that some time.
Lionsgate presents The Midnight Meat Train. Directed by: Ryuhei Kitamura. Starring: Vinnie Jones, Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Tony Curran, Brooke Shields, Roger Bart. Written by: Clive Barker & Jeff Buhler. Running time: 100 minutes. Rating: Unrated. Released on DVD: February 17, 2009. Available at Amazon.com