Based on Clive Barker’s short story of the same name, Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura brings Midnight Meat Train to life with bold effects and a heart-pounding plotline that will prevent one from looking away at even the most grotesque sequences.
Barker, the mastermind behind the sadistic Hellraiser franchise, wrote the story as part of an anthology in 1984 that can be found in Volume One of Books of Blood. Also credited as producer and working with Jeff Buhler on a theatrical-worthy screenplay, Barker delivers Meat Train with more bloodshed and creative death sequences that remain unprecedented.
As New York photographer Leon Kauffman (Bradley Cooper) tries to capture the grittiness of the city in his snapshots and entice art guru and head-honcho Susan Hoff (Brooke Shields), he goes to great lengths to achieve his goal and be a big name in the art scene.
But after the disappearance of a well-known model, Leon becomes obsessed with a local butcher/serial killer known as Mahogany (Vinnie Jones), who he suspects has played a role in her death and places himself in even the most dangerous tuations to stay on his trail.
His obsesons soon lead himself and girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb) not only to a plummeting relationship, but also in various tuations that would have them executed in the cattle-slaughtering style that Mahogany is known for.
Kitamura does a fine job in building suspense throughout, and the gritty subway with its dim, flushed background and being a place that is stereotyped for its sleaze-laden, perilous atmosphere, plays perfect as the primary location of slaughter.
With unique camera angles and stylish effects, it makes Meat Train an original that never settles for clichéd moments, as many other suspense/horror films have been utilizing for the past decade.
Cooper and Bibb keep their characters credible with barely any overdramatic acting, and Jones portrays the disgruntled butcher charismatically, as if he played the part a million times before.
But with a surprise finale that takes an unexpected turn that works well for the most part, especially under the guidance of Barker, Midnight Meat Train is a macabre tale that can be compared to crude reality mixed with the inconceivable twist of horror.