Horror lovers and gore hounds rejoice; your pleas have not gone unheard. The Midnight Meat Train delivers on its promise and then some. The Midnight Meat Train is well shot, probably reminding some of the grimy shimmer of 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Midnight Meat Train has a intimidating antagonist in the form of Mahogany (Vinne Jones), a likable protagonist, Leon Kauffman (Bradley Cooper), and the prerequisite eye candy, Leon’s girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb), though in the second and third act of The Midnight Meat Train, Maya actually becomes an active participant in the film.
Leon is a photography attempting to capture New York City through his lens, the real New York City that has never been captured before. Leon is told by Susan Hoff (Brooke Shields), that if he wants to be featured in her gallery, he can’t leave a great shot; he has to follow it through to its natural conclusion. That is exactly what Leon does when he begins venturing into the subway terminals of New York City late at night. He sees exactly what Susan is looking for and then some. Leon is given the opportunity during this period to show his street smarts, save a damsel in distress and finds the photographic subject that may put him on the map. Unbeknownst to Leon, he has entered the wake of serial killer Mahogany and the human meat he batters into chum after 2 a.m. begins eating away at Leon and every substantial facet of his life.
Mahogany’s kills are exquisite in their gore, brutality and cinematography. If the camera was not placed where it is during these scenes, they would not be as memorable. Director Ryuhei Kitamura actually took a cue from the Jaws modus operandi of less is more during some of the kills, engaging the viewer’s mind and imagination to fill in what is not seen. The Midnight Meat Train falters in the end of its third act with a plot reveal that is completely unnecessary but it’s not as plot altering or detrimental as the one present in Haute Tension. The Midnight Meat Train would have been a more structurally sound horror film if the reveal had been excised and one more in line with what had happened up to that point had been included. By trying to add something different, possibly in an attempt to differentiate the film from the pack, The Midnight Meat Train is advertently hurt in the process.
Ryuhei Kitamura’s The Midnight Meat Train, based on a story of the same name in horror auteur Clive Baker’s “Books of Blood” collection, is a good horror film that tittered on being great if it weren’t for its final plot reveal. The Midnight Meat Train is a stylish horror film that almost lives up to its full potential. Even though it doesn’t quite do that in the end, we can all thank Kitamura for the inclusion of striking Asian actress/model Nora and a horror film that is not a retread.