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The Midnight Meat Train

2008 / Ryuhei Kitamura / R / Roku


Equipped to the teeth with chainmail and knives, B-rad puts up a hell of a fight!

A Quick Rundown of The Midnight Meat Train

This American horror film is based on the 1984 short story from author Clive Barker in volume one of his collection titled Books of Blood. I've read the collection myself and it's only a matter of time before more of the material is to be adapted. Clive Barker's short story follows a New York accountant, Leon, who has grown contemptuous with his life. Leon works late, to avoid his coworkers, and falls asleep on the subway one night. Upon waking, Leon is surprised to discover a curtain on the other end of the subway train. Eventually, Leon's fate collides with the notorious Subway Butcher, aka Mohagony, whose daily routines and duties are all meant to serve the Gods beneath the city.

What's so different from the 30-page short story to the 90-minute film? Just enough to allow newer audiences in on the horror maestro Clive Barker, while also keeping his fanbase happy. They introduce a few extra characters that make Leon more relatable to your standard movie-goers, including a female partner. Leon is also a photographer whose purpose is to highlight the underbelly of the city, which really plays into the overall message of the story. The closer Leon gets to discovering the truth behind Mohagony (the subway buther), the more he loses himself to the gruesomely sterile subway cars.

the midnight meat train

The Creative Team Behind The Midnight Meat Train

Mr. Kitamura is a director and writer from Japan mostly known for his dark edgy tones that can be seen in films such as Azumi (2003) and Versus (2000). I might be covering last years The Price We Pay, which is also directed by Kitamura. This film stars Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, and Vinnie Jones. This cast offers a good variety to these dynamic characters. Cooper plays the charismatic protagonist, Leon. I imagine that this a role he probably doesn't discuss often. We of course know Bradley Cooper from A Star Is Born, Hangover, and Guardians of The Galaxy. Leslie Bibb is Maya, the near perfect girlfriend who only wants her man to follow his dreams. Leslie's done a lot on screen, and she also has some ties to the MCU having played in the first two Iron Man movies. You might know her as Miss Nobody, the 2010 comedy thriller about a murderous secretary. The Subway Butcher, aka Mohagony, is played by Vinnie Jones. Vinnie's a powerhouse on screen who's known for his roles as Juggernaut in the Fox X-Men films, and Bullet-Tooth Tony in Snatch.

the midnight meat train

Jake's Take on The Midnight Meat Train

The Midnight Meat Train is a film about legacy and amputating ones self from societal norms. The message that I receive from Clive's story is to beware those who have power i.e. police, train conductors, gallery owners, in fear that their true intentions are to turn you against those you love in hopes to use you as a pawn in their sick game of feeding. The film and short story share this message. Jeff Buhler worked closely with Barker to make sure that the script and story aligned, which I very much appreciate. The look of this film screams 2000's, and by that I mean that there's a greenish filter to everything and the film grain is turned up to eleven. The CG in this film is surprisingly decent, and it's used sparingly, which makes plenty space for more practical effects. My least favorite aspect of the film are the cannibalistic monsters that live deep in the subway under New York. They're these humanoid slimy monsters with bloody skin, and they're boring to look at. If you're into the 2000's horror aesthetic, like Saw, then you'll really dig The Midnight Meat Train. If you're a fan of Clive Barker's work, then you'll also dig The Midnight Meat Train. If you're both then you're in for a real treat. If you're neither then you're better off passing this one by.

You find a medicine cabinet filled with jars of scabs, and you...

  • Eat them, yum, yum, yum.

  • Ask the owner of the cabinet if you should be concerned.

  • Run and hide in a close. You'll surely survive.


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