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Midnight Meat Train (2008) Review

Article by SisterRoboto of

Directed By: Ryuhei Kitamura

A photographer propelled to explore his dark side begins tracking a subway serial killer whose brutal butchery makes for the most nightmarish images ever captured on camera in director Ryuhei Kitamura’s adaptation of a short story by horror heavyweight Clive Barker. Leon Kaufman (Bradley Cooper) is just another struggling photographer in search of the perfect subject. Encouraged to explore the sinister side of humanity by a prominent art gallery proprietor (Brooke Shields) who is set to display his upcoming debut, Leon goes against the wishes of his girlfriend, Maya (Leslie Bibb), and begins stalking notorious serial killer Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) — whose sadistic murder spree has been making headlines all across the country. As Leon’s fascination with Mahogany gradually grows into obsession, his descent into the killer’s putrid world of murder begins to corrupt his soul while simultaneously dragging his concerned girlfriend down a perverse path of darkness from which there is no return.

The name pretty much says it all… Midnight Meat Train. You basically know what you’re in for when you seek out this movie to watch. Clive Barker (Hellraiser), one of the most original and influential authors in modern fantasy and horror fiction, took the world by storm when he displayed his great imagination and talent comparable to that of Stephen King. Midnight Meat Train is based on a short story written by Barker and brought to life on the silver screen by director, Ryuhei Kitamura.  When it comes to the genre of gruesome horror, the Japanese have the ability to paralyze you with fear as in this splatter film.  I’m not generally filled with anticipation to watch such a blatant gory movie about mutilation and violent massacre scenes filled with every dismembered body part you can fathom, but… this movie probably rates in my list of the most brutal, evil, and interesting fictional serial killers of all-time.  This guy is the epitome of the word evil.  Actor, Vinnie Jones plays this callous role phenomenally, almost like he was born for it.

The movie is about Leon (Cooper), an aspiring New York City photographer who is instructed by his agent (Brooke Shields) to delve deep into the underbelly of the city for inspiration. With this instruction, he decides to check out the subway station for interesting subjects. While snapping some photos late one evening, Leon catches a glimpse of a towering and suspicious character and he begins investigating the man’s late-night activities. Sounds like a great idea! Needless to say, “The Butcher” earns his nickname on a nightly basis as he stalks the nearly-deserted subway trains for unknowing victims.  His favorite methods of rapid attack include a nasty hook and a giant meat-tenderizing hammer.  He uses both of these weapons with so much skill and alarming force that it is disturbing to watch as it happens so brutally quick. As the killer catches wind of this stalking photographer, he manages to drag him and his girlfriend into the horror.

There is a consistent bleak tone throughout the film that is very unsettling and most disturbing to me was the emotionless demeanor of the killer. There are some very memorable kills on display and Kitamura doesn’t skimp on the blood.  Bradley Cooper anchors the film very well, seeming to be a descent and charming guy at the beginning, but shifts into an obsessive narcissist as the flick marches on.  I also thought Brooke Shields was believable as the slutty and snobby art exhibitor, that’s a good role for her.

In the end, The Midnight Meat Train ends up being quite a fun ride to take.  Although violent and brutal, its energetic style is appealing to me. This is seriously a messed up, dark little tale but it’s also a sobering reminder that there are still plenty of Barker stories ripe for adaptation.   It’s seedy, strange, creepy as hell and it relishes the occasional exploitive gross-out, gag reflex. Not to mention, this one has a killer ending! Trust me, this is the kind of horror flick you’ll want to follow up with The Princess Bride or maybe the Wizard of Oz. Something with puppies and kittens.

About SIster Roboto (21 Articles)
I am a graphic designer, mother, and lover of all things scary. I enjoy a delicious beer and the company of my lunatic friends in my downtime. I am a horror fanatic at heart and if something can give me that intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust... I'd like to share it with the world.

2 Comments on Midnight Meat Train (2008) Review

  1. Did you mention this movie on your blog yesterday or something? Or maybe I saw it mentioned on Mandy’s blog. Because I searched for this movie on Netflix last night, LOL, what a coincidence!! Unfortunately it’s not streaming, but I did add it to my mail queue. I remember seeing it when it was first released, and I think I remember it had an interesting/cool ending too so looking forward to a re-watch.

  2. This was a great movie! 🙂

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