My take on this movie was colored a little by my conviction that taking pictures of random people is creepy as shit and should earn you a restraining order, not a place in a photography exhibit. So figuring out who to get behind in The Midnight Meat Train required some extended negotiations that went something like this:
Leon, the main character: “Oh hai, chick who’s about to be sexually assaulted. I’m going to stand here taking pictures of you while you’re being threatened with a knife, instead of screaming for a cop or something. Because I am Edgy.”
Me: “Wow. I hope you die in a fire.”
Mahogany (and ouch, if that isn’t the most undignified name for a serial killer since Early Grayce): *smashes eyeballs*
Creepy Conductor Guy: “Mahogany, that was sloppy. I AM DISAPPOINT.”
Me: “Jeez, how mean. Okay, maybe I’m on Team Freakish Butcher Dude.”
Maya, The Girlfriend: “I’m doing my best, here, but Leon’s kind of a creep.”
Me: “Okay, maybe I’ll be on Team Girlfriend -”
Maya: “Oh wait, I’m going to be That Stupid Horror Movie Chick and get my friend killed.”
Me: “- or maybe not.”
Brooke Shields: “Hey, I’ve aged amazingly well, haven’t I?”
Me: “And you’re well-dressed! Team Brooke!”
Still and all, I always enjoy Clive Barker movies, and I enjoyed this one. Leon (Bradley Cooper) is an aspiring photographer whose avowed mission is to capture the Heart Of The City on film, which he explains to gallery owner Brooke Shields using language of such excruciating triteness that you have to figure Barker is making fun of someone, or a whole class of someones. Brooke rightfully sends him away with a flea in his ear, so back Leon goes into the subway to take edgier pictures or die trying. Soon he realizes that an awful lot of his subjects are going missing, and that the same beefy guy shows up in an awful lot of those pictures – Mahogany (Vinnie Jones), the mute butcher who actually is going around slaughtering people on trains in the night. Cue Leon’s obsession with the whole thing, a lot of pictures on actual film, and things ending badly for many, many people.
The Midnight Meat Train is probably the most overtly Lovecraftian movie of Barker’s that I’ve seen, which doesn’t thrill me because I don’t love Lovecraft, but it makes for a neat twist ending. The performances are good, the visuals are nicely bleak, and Mahogany – who could easily have gotten shoehorned into a Generic Guy Killing People – wound up being someone I’d really have liked to know more about. And Creepy Conductor Dude is creepy, holy shit.
So what’s the verdict? Three stars. It can’t compete with Hellraiser or Candyman, but it’s solidly in there with Nightbreed. I might have had trouble figuring out who to root for, but the movie kept me involved and entertained. I have to say, though, I never understood the hate for CGI blood until now. Yeah, Hollywood, no. Please bring back the ketchup or whatever it was you were using before.