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Midnight Meat Train

By
Midnight Meat Train
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Screenwriters: Jeff Buhler
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Vinnie Jones
Running time: 98 mins
Certificate: 18

Clive Barker's short stories have been the foundation for the brilliant Hellraiser and Candyman, but this latest adaptation is a lacklustre effort that is high on gore and low on chills. Apart from the impressive cinematography and score, the rest of the film is about as engrossing as standing outside a butcher shop window for 90 minutes.

The premise is sound enough, as struggling photographer Leon Kaufman
(Bradley Cooper) stumbles across a serial killer (Vinnie Jones) who is stalking and chopping up late night commuters on subway trains. Leon's growing obsession in capturing the subject matter on camera provides some interesting character development, but the script doesn't provide enough meat for anyone to test their acting chops.

Besides, director Ryuhei Kitamura appears far more interested in examining the effects of a meat tenderiser being smashed into various body parts. In slow-mo, we witness various eyeballs, brains and decapitated heads being splattered across train carriages earlier on in the film, utterly bereft of any tension or scares. It feels more like a technical and make-up exercise than anything else.

This is a shame, because the environment the film takes place in is full of artistic merit. The pale visual texture of the film, full of washed out colours and the clinical metal of train interiors, complements the bleak storyline very well. Similarly, the incidental music, with a mysterious synthesised soundscape, also heightens the atmosphere.

As the commuter butcherer, Vinnie Jones has the right physiognomy and physical presence, but is let down by some poorly choreographed fight scenes in the film that diminish his menace. At least his character is just about more than a simple bad guy though, as a degree of interest is aroused through a rather uncommon physical ailment he suffers from.

Ultimately, the inability to stretch an intriguing short story into a feature film is the underlying cause for its poor quality. British viewers can at least cheer themselves up with the knowledge that serial killers are unlikely to strike on the ailing London Underground though, as they'd probably top themselves waiting for the train to turn up.


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