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Movie Review: Midnight Meat Train

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Midnight Meat Train is sure to satisfy fans of the slasher genre. It won’t disappoint! Read on:

Chances are good that if you’ve heard of The Midnight Meat Train, you’ve heard that Lionsgate – for whatever horrific reasons – has decided to essentially derail the film by releasing it anonymously on only 100 theatres. And, if the recent reports are to be believed, those venues will consist largely of the smaller, out-of-the-way, dollar-theatres still scattered across the country. Certainly, this is a rude damnation for any film with such an iconic pedigree as Clive Barker behind it, but the upside (if indeed there is one) is that with minimal effort audiences will only have to pay a scant few dollars for what may be one of the best horror films to hit the big-screen in the last few years.

The conceit of Midnight Meat Train is relatively simple: Photographer Leon Kauffman (Bradley Cooper) is on a mission to capture the city. Not just the winding streets and brick and facades, but the spirit of the place, offered up in stark black-and-white. One evening, Kauffman photographs a woman on the subway who turns up missing the following morning. Returning to the scene, Kauffman eventually encounters Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) – an imposing figure in a charcoal suit and tie – who, as it soon turns out, is butchering his victims on the late-train and unloading their meat in what Kauffman presumes is the meat-packing plant where Mahogany works. The actual explanation is revealed in a bizarre third-act twist that readers of Barker’s original short story will certainly see coming and by which less informed audiences will likely be polarized.

But make no mistake, Midnight Meat Train is hardcore, bloody, red-raw horror. Director Ryuhei Kitamura – best known for action-packed foreign fare – brings an incredible level of polish and visual sophistication to what is essentially a mid-range script. Not only does the film look incredible through its dark-room red’s and dull, lifeless fluorescents, but it’s also creatively directed. There are shots in this movie – particularly one involving a decapitation from a rather unique point-of-view – that are equal parts brutal, playful and intensely original. Kitamura proves adept at offering not only visceral, violent gore, but at effectively sustaining tension until the opportunity for style and fast-paced action presents itself. There’s an energy to the film’s final 10 minutes that’s unmatched in recent horror films, and Kitamura’s penchant for hard-hitting action, while suitably controlled, is always just below the surface.

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