Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Midnight Meat Train

Directed by Ryûhei Kitamura.
2008. Rated R, 100 minutes.
Bradley Cooper
Leslie Bibb
Vinnie Jones
Brooke Shields
Barbare Eve Harris
Roger Bart
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

Leon (Cooper) is an artistic photographer who is struggling with his craft. High-powered art dealer Susan Hoff (Shields) tells him that something is missing. He seems to find it when he goes prowling the streets at night and happens upon a woman being hassled by a group of thugs. After snapping a few pics he manages to get the lady out of harm’s way, for the time being. Soon, he discovers that she is a famous model and has gone missing. Of course, we already know that the psychopath riding a particular subway train and wielding a rather large blunt object literally made a bloody mess of her. Through some serious stalker work, our hero figures out who our psycho is and that he’s slaughtering people every night on this train.

The cat and mouse that develops between these two men is highly intriguing and tense. There’s also the question of Leon’s own sanity sliiping. He seems to be losing his grip on reality. His obsession with his craft and following this guy around is threatening his relationship with Maya (Bibb), as well.

Interspersed with all this are some beautifully grisly murders. Some of the blood splattering is obviously cgi but most other things in those scenes are very well done. There are some terrific images throughout. The point-of-view shot from the viewpoint of a person being decapitated is simply amazing.

When we get to the last act, we jump the shark. At some point all of this madness has to be explained. The explanation we get is among the lamest in cinematic history. To make matters worse, it’s not even fully explained. The basic question of why is unanswered. Of course, this is all to facilitate the stupid twist that ends the movie. What seemed to be an intelligent and unsettling horror film, possibly on the path to becoming one of the greats, instantaneously becomes one of the biggest letdowns in recent memory. I’ve since found out this is based on a Clive Barker story. Had I read the story, I might not be so disappointed. Either that, or I just wouldn’t have watched the movie. This is very much like my experience watching Sunshine. Therefore, I’ll give the same advice: If you love the twist, you’ll love the movie. For me, that twist is unlovable.

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