Movie Reviews 116 – The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

The Midnight Meat TrainI remember this film being featured at the Fantasia Film festival in Montreal a few years back. I could not make it for the screening and had to remain content with just seeing the trailer and reading about it. The title is suggestive of a butcher shop on wheels and as weird as it sounds, it’s just about right as far as a one line description would be.

When up and coming photographer Leon (Bradley Cooper) lurks the city after hours looking for of true life, gritty photo subjects so that he can make his mark as a successful photographer, he snaps a pics of a damsel in distress on a subway platform and in doing so saves her from some thugs about to have their way with her. When that same girl is then reported missing Leon reports his encounter to the cops hoping that the information will help them out. His continued late night forays into the back alleys and empty streets then leads to a minor unpleasant run in with a particular well dressed skulking figure (Vinnie Jones) whose piercing eyes impart more than simple disdain for the nosy paparazzi. When Leon’s photos reveal that the mysterious man was the last to see the missing girl he goes into full blown detective mode and starts piecing together a slew of missing persons that all seem to have disappeared when taking a particular last subway train run for over the last hundred years. The police being no help and hinting that Leon’s may himself be a suspect, Leon’s fiancee Maya (Leslie Bibb) tries to dissuade him from continuing with his obsession, but that just drags herself into the mystery man’s clutches.

Based on a Clive Barker story the movie exemplifies the author’s signature visceral gore as well as satanic and supernatural constructs, however the latter only comes in the picture near the end where everything is explained. The midnight meat train scenes are pretty graphic starting off with an early kill of none other than actor Ted Raimi in one of the coolest CGIed kill sequences I’ve seen in a long time. The other train butchering scenes are more realistic and tension filled even though we know when he is about to strike again.

Vinnie Jones as the silent, well dressed killer really shines in the role not only in his killing spree, but in the few scenes where he is a real meat butcher at a plant. The fact that he goes in to while every day immaculately dressed only deepens the mystery.

Brooke Shields plays a minor role as high profile photographer agent critiquing and encouraging Leon to explore his darker metropolitan photo shoots.  The whole back-story doesn’t really live up to the mystery that is slowly built during the movie, but overall it was entertaining and original in some respects.

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