The Midnight Meat Train

Viewed – 01 June 2009  DVD

I read this short story quite a few years ago and was part of the reason I became such an admirer of writer / painter / director Clive Barker.  Oh, that and his debut movie, the legendary Hellraiser.  Yet it is also a sad fact that this guy’s directorial work has been very hit and miss, and I suspect that making films is not where his heart is at, instead choosing to be one of the best horror / fantasy writers around.   This movie is a fleshed out version of said little known short story in his acclaimed collection of stories known as Books Of Blood; grizzly, gory horror tales packed with imagination and terror.  Thankfully though this isn’t just another bastardisation of his material, but instead one he has had plenty of involvement with … even if on a whole his talent is mostly absent.

A photographer on the verge of hitting the big time becomes involved in the case of a missing super model he mistakenly photographs on the night of her disappearance, and his investigations lead him to a mysterious train passenger who also works for a meat factory, and may be involved in the model’s disappearance.  Of course we quickly discover that said train passenger is a brutal serial killer who (quite literally) butchers train passengers in the middle of the night, and the photographer finds his life in danger when the killer finds out about his investigation.

What helps this rise (slightly) above the glut of by-the-numbers horror is inventive, stylish direction from Ryûhei Kitamura, and some very gory set pieces, that are only let down by a heavy dose of CGI that ends up making some of the gore look fake.  Thankfully though there’s plenty of entertainment to be had from Vinny Jones’ word-less killer, his mere presence carrying the film, and Bradley Cooper proves a likable anti-hero even if there’s plenty of actors who could have filled his shoes and done just as well, if not better.

For a Clive Barker movie, its glossy, gory fun but not much else … and his name deserves better.  Yet taken on its own merits, this is a decent slice of horror with enough style and striking images to linger in the memory.

Verdict:  3 /5

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