I am always keen to watch any of Clive Barker’s books to film adaptions, and so, it was with high expectations that I sat to watch this one.
To put the movie into context the plot of ‘Midnight Meat Train’ is taken from a short story written as part of his ‘Books of Blood’ series. I’m told that the plot of the movie pretty much follows that of the book pretty much by the letter and so, as with many shorts the story is fairly linear; although no less intriguing. The story kicks off with a photographer looking for a niche in the business. He is introduced to a high flying art dealer who challenges him to take pictures which really capture the heart of darkness of the city. Initially he photographs some tramps, and then some gangland thugs, however by chance he stumbles upon the murderous trail of someone he dubs ‘the butcher’ on account of where the guy works. As he begins to tail the butcher he is soon entangled in a surreal world of violence and conspiracy.
Needless to say the movie’s plot is way up to standard, and anybody who is familiar with Barker’s work will be satisfied with some of the films surreal twists. Thankfully the movie is far from a cash in and the story treated with a great deal of respect. The acting is pretty good and the locations and cinematography really give the movie the grimy atmosphere it deserves. The choice of placing Vinnie Jones as the butcher was a really good one as he suits the part well, and due to the absence of lines, he doesn’t have a choice to ruin the façade. The only point which I feel compelled to make is that there is always a risk when using short stories as plot basis of running out of decent material, and at the full 100 or so minutes run time there are parts in this movie which literally go nowhere and the pace suffers as a result. This movie would have made a far better entrance into the ‘Masters of Horror’ series (most of whose episodes clock in at around the 60 minute mark).
As with any Clive Barker adaption there is always the opportunity for some gore, from the title alone you could see that this was never going to be his most subtle effort and thankfully the film delivers. The gore in the first half of the movie is let down in a way by some pretty over the top CGI effects. They are pretty gruesome, but I’ve got to say that a slowed down flight of a CGI eyeball looked more comic than brutal, especially when someone slips over on it once it has landed! That said, it did the job and towards the end of the movie the use of some pretty realistic prosthetic effects helps to bring some credibility to the violence. I won’t go into any spoiling details, just be rest assured you will be satisfied.
Overall, despite the pace issue, ‘Midnight Meat Train’ delivers what it set out to do. It’s one of those movies which although it doesn’t excel in any particular areas, it does manage to suck you into a very satisfying hour and a half. If you are a fan of Barker’s other adaptions then you will find this a great addition to your collection. I would also recommend it to fans of the ‘Masters of Horror’ series or fans horror/fantasy in general.