PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
The film opens as a well dressed, barrel chested man stalks the late-night passengers of a subway train. He kills several people with a meat hammer and a butcher’s hook. He dispatches his prey with unnatural strength. He wears a ring on his finger, adorned with an eight pointed star. We are then introduced to Leon (Bradley Cooper), a photographer who heads into the city’s subway system at night to take photographs and saves a woman from a group of guys harassing her. The next day, he discovers the girl has gone missing. Leon is intrigued and begins to investigate newsreels about similar disappearances. His investigation leads him to a butcher named Mahogany (Vinnie Jones), who he suspects has been killing subway passengers for as long as ten years.
Leon attempts to turn some of the photos he has taken of Mahogany in to the police, but they become suspicious of Leon’s motives. Leon decides to take matters into his own hands and goes to the subway at midnight, where he witnesses the butcher killing several passengers and hanging them on meat hooks. Leon passes out on the subway floor after being attacked by the butcher who then strings him up like the other dead bodies. He passes out again when “something” begins to attack him and awakens the next morning in an abandoned subway platform with strange markings carved into his chest. Maya (Leslie Bibb), Leon’s girlfriend, and her friend Jurgis (Roger Bart) examine the photos Leon has been taking of Mahogany, leading them to the killer’s apartment. After breaking into the butcher’s home, Jurgis is kidnapped. Maya goes to the police, but they won’t listen to her. A police official, who seems to be involved with the unfolding conspiracy, directs the misguided Maya to a trip on the midnight train. Leon, unaware of Maya’s involvement, decides to put an end to the butcher’s crimes and heads to the meat packing plant Mahogany works in. Leon arms himself with a butcher’s apron and several slaughterhouse knives.
Leon enters the train as Mahogany corners Maya. Leon attacks Mahogany and finally throws him out of the train. Eventually, they enter an underground cavern filled with bones and decomposing bodies. The train engineer enters the car and advises Leon and Maya to “Please, step away from the meat.” The true purpose of the underground station is revealed as reptile-people enter the car and consume the bodies of the butcher’s victims. As they exit the train, Leon and Maya discover they are in a station underneath city hall which is littered with the bones of hundreds of victims. Mahogany returns in a battered and bleeding state and charges at him, and Maya is tossed aside. Leon engages him a final time ending with Leon driving a sharpened bone through Mahogany’s throat in which Mahogany whispers with his dying breath “Welcome.” At which Leon impales Mahogany’s skull with a butcher knife. The train engineer explains to Leon that the reptile-people have always existed and the butcher’s job is to feed them every night, in order to keep them “separate” and prevent them from having to come to the surface for sustenance, a scheme which the police are also in on and have helped to continue. The engineer rips out Leon’s tongue with the same superhuman strength as the butcher and eats it, then he forces Leon to watch as he kills Maya on an altar of corpses with one of the butcher’s knives and rips out her still-beating heart. When the engineer is done, he tells Leon that he will become the new meat train butcher, replacing Mahogany (for he became ‘inefficient’).
In the final scene, the police official who was involved hands the train schedule to the new butcher, who wears a ring with the same eight-pointed star. The killer walks onto the midnight train and turns to reveal that he is a now-mute Leon
Not too long ago, I mentioned in a horror movie review how that we never get a flat-out slaghterfest, without all the psychological mess behind it. Mindless killing…if you must show blood, guts, and the like, then I don’t want to know the reason behind it or how the killer got so twisted that he must kill to get his rocks off. Just slaughter folks and move on. Well, I finally got my wish thanks to The Midnight Meat Train.
I first saw this trailer on some obscure movie I watched a few weeks back. I wasn’t sure what to think of it, but curiosity got the best of me. It appears that this is actually based on a series of books, called Books of Blood. Each of these is set to be released. If the subsequent films live up to this one, then you can guarantee I’ll be viewing, and I’m not even a horror fan!
So, I bet you’re wondering what this is about, right? Well, there is no easy way to explain. The easiest way is that there is a train, a butcher, a photographer, and some mysterious goings on. All these things converge more and more as the film progresses, until the penultimate confrontation at the film’s climax, which leads to an interesting final scene.
As I mentioned before, this is not some half-ass PG-13 horror film. In this day and age when films are afraid to go for that R rating, it is refreshing to see one. On top of that, we get lots of blood gushing, head chopping, eye-popping (literally) murders, without some long, convoluted diatribe before hand. The guy just does them and goes about his business, that way a good killer should.
Now, there is a story going on besides the giant, mystery guy killing people on the subway. There is also the life and times of our leading man who is a struggling photographer trying to take that one picture which will land him a good job and allow him to support his fiancée.
I wish I could say that I cared about their relationship, but to be honest, it did nothing for the picture, except slow it down. I know that it was meant to give us a little more background and whatnot, but it just seemed like unnecessary filler, if you ask me. Then again, in horror flicks, aren’t 90% of the film that same kind of fluff?
The bloody effects here remind me of a mixture between the bloody splatter effects in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and the video game God of War. The mixture may sound a bit eclectic, but, somehow the slight bit of unrealness lightens up the film just enough to make it a bit more enjoyable. I know that may sound weird, but that’s how it is.
The acting in this isn’t top-notch, but the actors serve their purpose for moving things along. As I said before, though, I just couldn’t seem to bring myself to care for any of the characters, save for the killer, only because h seemed to be all alone.
What did I ultimately think of The Midnight Meat Train? Well, it is a bit of a throwback, if you will, to those awesome horror flicks of the 80s where filmmakers weren’t scared to show some gruesome murders. Mix that with today’s mentality of just plain sick, deprived ways of killing, and there you have it. Do I recommend this to anyone? Oh yes, it is definitely worth the viewing, even if you’re not a horror fan.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars