The Midnight Meat Train Review
I’m very obviously in a minority of viewers who were slightly less than impressed by The Midnight Meat Train. I’ve heard nothing but positive reactions from others who’ve seen it, and I do enjoy the work of Clive Barker, so it comes as a complete surprise to me that I am not raving over this film. Pourquoi pas? Was the acting unacceptable (usually the first strike)? No…some of the characters seemed a bit stiff at times, but I chalked that off more to the way they were written than to the players. How about the overall look to the film? I had no aversions to that, other than the overly bright color of the blood. Was it the story? Not really the story itself, perhaps more to the way it was presented. Ok, so what is the issue?
The film simply had a lack of surprises for me. From the murder of the model onward, I was able to predict the outcome with fair accuracy. It was no secret that Leon was going to obsessively follow the butcher (very unstealthily, to boot), and it was a given that worried, weepy Maya, instead of getting help for him, would instead drag her clueless pal, Jurgis, off to the killer’s turf to be slaughtered. After all, Roger Bart’s played that character before in other films. He was a goner from the moment he hit the screen.. Tough break, dude, but you might as well have been wearing a red security shirt. The useless inclusion of the double-crossing police detective was the cliché that pushed it over the top. That was the giveaway to the entire plot in one scene, and I believe it affected how I viewed the remainder of the film. I honestly think I would have been giving this movie unequivocal thumbs up if that had been deleted from the final cut.
Not being completely cynical, I must say that I did enjoy the actual murder sequences. I will even admit to laughing when one victim’s eyes popped out. The butcher was, by far, the best character in the movie. Leon should have been given a bit more personal fortitude. I don’t think having my chest carved up, getting my tongue ripped out and eaten, and seeing my friends become ghoul chow would make me rush off to become a hired Gump for the dark side, but I’m just funny that way. If the filmmakers had taken a little more time with advancing the reasons behind the meat deliveries and the transformation of Leon into his future role as the replacement butcher, if they had forgone some of the non-essential characters and devoted more of that wasted time to the main storyline, I might be listing this as a classic. It could still happen. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for slight re-editing in a director’s cut.