Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Review-The Midnight Meat Train
An Open Letter:
Dear Clive Barker,
May I please have your creepy children? I know you're gay but I'm sure we can figure something out.
Yours in Fan-girliness,
The Midnight Meat Train was one of those movies that I've been wanting to see for ages. Every blog I read raved about it, my friends raved about, and every damn person seemed to have seen it except for me! This is because I appear to be on a 3 month delay with horror films. Seriously. I am usually the last to know about and see them. This does not bode well for Drag Me to Hell (Note to self, drag someone to Drag Me to Hell.). I'm so last season. I know.
Midnight Meat Train is an insane film based off the short story by Clive Barker and directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. This is where I give my general synopsis but I'm not sure if I can really sum up this film in a few words. Basically its about a young photographer, Leon played by Bradley Cooper who encounters and becomes obsessed with a mysterious and frightening man named Mahogany played brilliantly by Vinnie Jones. Many hard left turns, gore, and really fucked up shit follows. I make it sound so simple but trust me its not. I'm trying not to give any spoilers so this review will probably sound pretty vague.
This movie, like an onion, has many layers. And I do believe I will need to watch it again to really get the full impact of it all. I went in expecting a film on par with some of Barker's lesser works. What I got was a movie that was right up there with his greats like Candyman and Hellraiser. Midnight Meat Train is basic in its story but takes that and builds strange layers and situations making it a far more complex film than the usual horror fare. At the beginning of the film you truly believe that you know where it's going. Then things change and you realize that maybe you're just not sure if that IS the direction its going to go. Its hardly an M. Night Shyamalan twist film but it does throw a couple of curve balls at you that make you say "WHOA!" "GAH!" and "I Think I Wet 'Em!"...well maybe not the third one...depending on your bladder. The screenplay never talks down to its audience and it never spells out the information all at once. You get glimpses here and glimpses there of information until the pieces all come together at the end.
The film also holds the Barker trademark elegant gore that I so adore; bloody, gooey, poetic, and grotesque. We have buckets of dark sticky blood against beautiful stark colored images, bodies hanging upside down on the subway train like sides of beef, tumors in a jar, and countless other moments of nightmare fuel. Even though Barker didn't direct the movie, Ryuhei Kitamura was conscious enough to know that you needed to have that element of elegance to really pull off a Clive Barker story. I wouldn't call it the usual Gothic gore that Barker does. The look is far more slick and modern but it still has that feeling of art. Kudos, man. Sometimes its a bit heavy on the CGI (*cough* flying eyeball *cough*) but the director does use that to his advantage and tries to makes cheap CGI appear more like a comic panel or painting, going for more surrealistic visuals than full out realism. 9 times out of 10 it works beautifully.
But lets get to the "meat" of this review....horrid joke I know. I will slap myself later.
Vinnie Jones as Mahogany has created one Hell of a horror villain icon! This was a wonderful character. The character only says 3 or four words they entire movie but he conveys paragraphs with his eyes. A big hulking man in a beige suit, intense eyes, and a quiet way about him. The phrase "Its the quiet ones you have to watch" was created for him, I'm sure. Mahogany is a beautifully terrifying and sad horror film villain. Though I'm not sure if you can really call him a villain. You soon realize he's as much a victim as everyone else. Yet he never falls into the woe as me poor widdle bad guy trap which could lessen his impact. You are always terrified of him and his impeccably shiny and clean meat tenderizer...hopefully I didn't give too much away. I never was afraid of meat tenderizers, then I saw Midnight Meat Train.
If you have not seen The Midnight Meat Train (though I have the sneaky suspicion that I am the last to have seen it) its definitely worth the rental. Actually I think its worth buying the DVD full price! And trust me, I can be a cheapskate so that's saying a lot from me. Check this classic out!
On a different note, Monsters and Madmen tie breaking results will be posted tomorrow. Thank you Johnny for breaking the dang tie!