Spooktober 22, Day 6: The Midnight Meat Train

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

Gruesome, dirty, strange: I love it.

The Midnight Meat Train is one of my favorite “hidden” horrors. I don’t honestly know how most people I meet haven’t heard of it, but it just delivers another opportunity for me to unleash this monster. I shared it with my father and it’s become a frequent rewatch for him and his friends this time of year.

Based on a short story from Clive Barker, and directed by Ryûhei Kitamura, Meat Train follows Leon (Bradley Cooper) a struggling photographer looking for his big break. When he has an opportunity to impress, he wanders the streets of NYC at night looking to capture something different and honest and well, dark, about the city.

When in the subway at night he sees some men trying to assault a woman and gets them to leave. From there he sees her enter the late-night train. At first, he’s assured by his girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb) that he’s definitely found his “thing”, but then notices in the paper that this same girl has gone missing, which strikes a different sort of intention.

source: Lionsgate, Lakeshore Entertainment

From there begins a spiral into obsession, especially when he sees another individual who catches his attention. Straight-faced, stern, intimidating butcher Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) catches Leon taking his photo, but it doesn’t deter the young artist from following him further. He tracks him to his home in a hotel, his work, and his usual nightly ride on the subway.

What first seems like idle curiosity turns into a theory about all the disappearances that have occurred in the city and a connection to this mysterious stranger. Leon has nightmares of a subway car, he can’t stop photographing Mahogany, and he seems certain he has some evidence the police might be interested in. No one else seems convinced of anything but his sanity slipping. At least, not for a while.

source: Lionsgate, Lakeshore Entertainment

The Midnight Meat Train is a film that feels like it exists in the dark underbelly of some forgotten subway station, where long secrets hide and creepy things occur. Oh wait, it is! But seriously, the movie not only has that aesthetic, but it’s like you can smell the blood, and grime like it gets under your nails.

There’s a pretty fantastic and disturbing twist towards the end and plenty of guts, stylish visuals, and sharp writing to make this a horror/thriller that is an inventive ride. Bradley Cooper and Vinnie Jones are both excellent in their roles. You may feel like a shower after this one, but if you can stomach it, and wade through the atrocities, it’ll definitely conjure some images you’re unlikely to forget.

The Midnight Meat Train feels like a slow-burn mystery mixed with a psychological invite into hell, with body parts a plenty. It’s got some bones by the end too, and I don’t just mean the human ones.

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