THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN
(director: Ryuhei Kitamura; screenwriters: Jeff Buhler/based on the short story by Clive Barker; cinematographer: Jonathan Sela; editor: Toby Yates; music: Robb Williamson, Johannes Kobilke; cast: Bradley Cooper (Leon), Leslie Bibb (Maya), Brooke Shields (Susan Hoff), Vinnie Jones (Mahogany), Roger Bart (Jurgis), Tony Curran (Driver), Ted Raimi (Randle Cooper), Barbara Eve Harris (Det. Lynn Hadley), Erika Sakaki (Nora), Stephanie Mace (Leigh Cooper), Peter Jacobson (Otto); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Clive Barker, Jorge Saralegui, Eric Reid, Richard Wright; Lionsgate; 2008)
“A bloody psycho thriller that derails in the third act with the addition of the supernatural, but until that point is amazingly realistic and alarming.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A bloody psycho thriller that derails in the third act with the addition of the supernatural, but until that point is amazingly realistic and alarming. The slasher pic is based on a short story by horror maven Clive Barker, from his Books of Blood. Japanese-born director Ryuhei Kitamura (“Baton”/”No One Lives”/”Sky High”) in the end turns it into a stylish ultra gore-filled action film instead of taking us along on Barker’s more involving dark psychological character study path. Jeff Buhler’s script is a bloody mess.
Aspiring LA photographer Leon (Bradley Cooper) lives with his encouraging waitress girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb). She introduces him to respected art gallery owner Susan Hoff (Brooke Shields) for a possible showing. The snobbish gallery owner disappoints by telling him his realistic photos of street life lacks depth, and holds up his debut showing. Not listening to Maya, he begins stalking notorious headline grabbing serial killer Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) after he is approached by him for taking a photo of a subway mugging. Leon becomes obsessed with his beastly almost mute serial killer subject, who butchers riders on the midnight train runs. Leon’s actions result in him going on an increasingly dark inner path. Eventually the serial killer’s venality transfers to him. Following this destructive path ruins the lives of the couple and leaves him trapped in a living hell.
Could have been great if it veered off into a different path, like the psychological path Barker set up so intricately in the story.
REVIEWED ON 5/2/2016 GRADE: B-