Subtle is not a word you can associate with Midnight Meat Train. It has no qualms about showing bodies ripped apart, cut open, or the back of people’s heads smashed in. Horror and gore fanatics will have a blast here, at least until the final twist in the end that comes completely out of left field, and right field, and center field.
Bradley Cooper stars as a photographer who slowly unravels a murder plot in the New York subway system. Much of the film is dialogue free, concentrating on shots of Cooper wandering around taking photos. The slowly unraveling plot is done mostly for tension and tone, and works. The grim, dark, and gritty photography is perfectly suited to the style.
The show stealer here though is Vinnie Jones, who is the unnamed killer (although credited as Mahogany). His cold stare and ability to not move in the slightest combine for a creepy, eerie, and lack of remorse that never stops being horrific. His kills are amazingly graphic, including a new horror classic involving an eyeball popping from its socket at the viewer.
Ryuhei Kitamura directs with flair, taking his style from previous works like Versus and Godzilla Final Wars. There’s a fantastic spinning camera shot late in the film that goes inside, outside, and around a moving train all during a kinetic fight. It’s a wonderful visual effect and concept.
With all of its visual wizardry, Meat Train should carry itself on looks alone. Sadly, the last 10 minutes are completely out of place here. It’s an idea that would work in a simple short story (like the one this film is based on), but in a feature-length film, the concept comes from nowhere and leaves too many questions. The movie almost feels unfinished, as if there is another movie waiting to be discovered after the final frames.
Still, the lead up to that mysterious ending is more than worthwhile. While it may be a simple slasher tale, it’s a well done one. Jones is a classic soulless killer, the type that makes these movies worth your time. Shame about the bizarre ending.
Gritty and dark, this Blu-ray is fantastic in maintaining the film’s look. Black levels are exceptional, never wavering or losing their depth. Grain sits over the image and is preserved perfectly. Detail is wonderful, cleanly coming through in every frame. A small moment of banding and a very minor instance of aliasing aren’t enough to knock this down from high-end status.
As always, Lionsgate goes the distance with a DTS-HD 7.1 mix. Sound design here is fairly pedestrian, filled mostly with the film’s score. The subway delivers some okay discrete work, but action scenes are limited to the front channels. There are some mild echoes and a bit of ambiance (inside the meat packing plant), yet nothing that stands out or truly delivers in some way to wow the listener. The low end does produce some decent bass, but again, it’s not the best you’ll ever hear.
A commentary by Clive Barker and Ryuhei Kitamura begin a brief selection of extras. Man Behind the Myth is a straightforward piece on Barker, and the longest feature at close to 15 minutes. Mahogany’s Tale focuses on Vinnie Jones briefly at five minutes, while Anatomy of a Murder Scene deals with the behind-the-scenes of the kills. It’s the middle of the road in terms of length at nine minutes. A selection of trailers round off the extras.