Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The Midnight Meat Train Review
Clive Barker creates a massive world full of blood and gore, but also knows how to carefully plot each step to make you believe in what is going on. Right when you're ready to give up he releases you into the forward moving escapade that he has mad for you. This movie is a nice reminder that Clive Barker is not only alive, he's making horror fans squeal and movie fans disgusted. The Midnight Meat Train is our latest review and boy it was interesting to say the least. The movie got a small theatrical release and no one really saw it, but then it got second life on dvd and in free online streaming networks. This movie kicked my face in at times, and it shocked me at a few turns, but it's not perfect. So without further writing and pandering, take a little journey with me in reviewing The Midnight Meat Train.
This movie suffers from an ill fated name. Seriously, the movie is misleading by the title. I would have preferred something a little less obtuse, but it seems that after watching this film, it is a fitting title. The movie was marketed as a good overall horror film, and it wasn't half bad. I liked the campaigns that involved this film, and it was great to see a rated R film getting a little attention, but it just didn't make gang buster money.
The movie is about a photographer who becomes obsessed with a murderer on a subway train. As he gets closer to realizing what the guy is doing, he begins to unravel a crazy plot between a butcher, his victims, and the world of meat eating that you may never want to visit in theory, real life, or visualization. Clive Barker presents to you an interesting take on the idea of "you are what you eat" in such a subtle way, that you nearly forget that this film has a counter culture message deep within its loins.
Here is a trailer for the 2008 film The Midnight Meat Train:
The movie starts out like other movies. It sets up your characters with a nice swift stroke of an artists brush. You feel for the character, especially if you're an artist, as he is trying to make it in this world saturated by amateur photographers and itching to get a piece of the pie. You then are taken through a series of events to introduce you to the villain, played by Vinnie Jones. The villain is gruesome, methodical and uses a meat axe of sorts to kill his victims. This is where we get point and/or flaw #1.
The flaw in this film up front is the use of CG gore effects. You can tell right away that there is not a lot of blood and gore used in the traditional effects suit case You can tell that there was an oblique use of blood and it was toned down so that the average viewer didn't notice it. Watch the slaughter sequences in the beginning of the film, or during the first view kills and you'll realize that technology is flawed, even if done with a light edge to it. I realize that the film is a horror movie and the gore is a bit much, even for Clive Barker, but it seems that the effects were overcast in an already sickening situation.
The music is a standout in this film. The use of symphony, guitars, drums and overt emotional tones created a great sound. The music stood out greatly in the scenes where our hero s trying to save his girlfriend from discovering the contents of the human meat cave of a subway car, with clever precision the scene becomes all the more frightening when one of the bodies speaks out in pain. This part of the film is captivating and you begin to realize that American Horror is not dead, it merely isn't praised like it should.
The ending of this film throws a wrench into the machine the at you're watching and you don't understand why things are going the way they are. The film starts mixing elements of the movie "CHUD" into this thing and it doesn't do it terribly, which I admire, but some audiences will find it reprehensible to mix the two and to throw a wrench into the viewers that are focusing on this film as a good horror film. I had an initial reaction to this film that was overtly negative, but then I understood it and I was fine with it, and now I think I like this film a lot more having thought about it a little further.
Is The Midnight Meat Train Scary: Yes. This movie is scary on a lot of different levels. We'll focus on two specific ones and if you find others, let me know and you can be featured in my mailbag post for the month of April. The slayings don't bother me, and they shouldn't bother you. The gore effects shouldn't scare you either. The scariest thing about this film is the ulterior motives that are involved with discovery. The main character discovers a serial killer on the train and he slowly unravels a big conspiracy, but so what? That is the scary point of this film, at least for me. Think about the idea of conspiracy theories, now think about how it must feel to see something with your own eyes and have the world not believe you. The photographer in this film becomes obsessed with it to the point that no one believes him, until he gets a taste of the action, involving himself with the killer, and therefore roping his girlfriend into the fray. The scary part is not so much the discovery as much as the point of recognition where no one believes you. This happens to all of us in many different factions in our lives. If you're a Christian you feel it whenever you speak up about your faith. If you are a believer in the 9/11 truth or fiction, or any other conspiracy theory in the world, you get it often and with full force. Whatever it is that you believe, even if you're an eye witness, there are those that contend against you, and that my friends is the scariest thing about belief systems. Knowing something and having no one believe you, that scares me on a daily basis in many different ways. It is not a crippling fear, but it is my own personal fear.
The second scary thing about this film is the relationship it has with CHUD. The world seems to balance itself out in this film by killings. The killings are then mixed in with beef and/or meat and we assume that real people are eating other people. The whole cannibalism subplot didn't bother me, it was the fact that there were "CHUDS", for lack of a better word in this film and there was no way of telling that. The whole scenario felt like a cop out really, and I really hated the way it was throw at you. I get it now, and I think it's good now, but it felt like a jolt to the system and a very unwanted twist in this otherwise gorey sensational film. I felt as though Clive Barker shoved me off a cliff in the end of the film, and on the way down I got really scared before I made peace with the fact that I was going to die. This film pulls your chain at the last minute to see if you're paying attention and the scariest notion of the film is the ending. What if you discovered something that would in turn become the rest of your life! If you discovered that a conspiracy theory was true, say you saw Big Foot with your own eyes and you dedicated your life to tracking it down again, and that consumed you for life. That is a scary notion, to be so consumed by something that not only no one believed you for, but furthermore you had no choice, it was that crippling. Think about that and think about the ending of this film, how it carefully plots itself into real life.
The position of Barker in this film is interesting to note in regards to our every day life. I for one, am a computer programmer, and I suck at it. The ending of the film mirrors my life in a little way because I had someone show me the ropes at my job, and I eventually consumed him. No, I didn't kill and eat him, I surpassed his position and then went on to do it better and now I can feel that my longevity is going to be challenged by a much younger and better programmer, and such is life. So with this film's minor and major plot points. We are seeing a transitional stage in an underground disposal of human beings so that the "CHUD" uprising doesn't take over. All under the guise of a slasher, mystery, horror film, and that my friends makes this movie stand out a lot more than other films.
The Midnight Meat Train is definitely the best Clive Barker based film since Hellraiser. I can't believe that more people didn't appreciate the deep relationships that this movie had in such a gorey way. You really got a sense of panic at times, you got scared at times, and if you dwell on the subject matter like I did, you really got a taste of the mind of Clive Barker. This film is under rated and I can see why. The flaws are shining through, but if you can forgive the flaws of films in The Hammer Horror series, and forgive the stupidity of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Sequels, then you can enjoy this film for at least what it is; Pure American Horror. Strip away my attempt at intellectualizing this film, and you have a gorey sludge of film that American horror fans have been asking for all along. Too bad they missed it in many ways.
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