Wednesday Rewind: Midnight Meat Train by @destroytheearth

Clive Barker is one of my favourite authors. He made his name with a spectacular, mutli-volume collection of short stories called the Books of Blood. One of the highlights is an atmospheric story called the Midnight Meat Train.

Barker is no stranger to film, he wrote and directed Hellraiser based on his own novella, so it was with great anticipation that I heard him recommend a new adaption of Meat Train. That was slightly knocked back when I found out that Vinnie Jones was to play the serial killer Mahogany. Still, I hoped... Hit the jump to read the result:

The film stars a pre-fame Bradley Cooper as a New York photographer who is determined to capture the dark side of the city in his work. He gets more than he bargained for when he happens across the aforementioned Mahogany, who stalks the city's tube trains late at night, butchering his prey like animals in an abattoir. As he investigates, he is drawn deeper into Mahogany's world, and finds that the murderer's victims are sacrifices to something dark living in the subways.

Cooper is good, as always, and he is backed up ably by Leslie Bibb – anyone else remember her from when she was in Popular? - who has since gone on to a series of blink-and-miss roles in everything from Iron Man to Confessions of a Shopaholic, and Brooke Shields in an absolutely WTF cameo. All are talented actors and deserve better than this mess.

For a start, the two lead characters' relationship is bizarre. What girlfriend would profess to love her bloke, but not mind him trawling the subways at 2 am, and be resolutely thrilled to find he has been threatened by muggers in the process?! The required sex scene is also worryingly forced, leaving them appearing not to be even remotely enjoying themselves. I think perhaps the director was trying to imply that he is being affected by the violence, but that really is guesswork.

The film is gory and violent, but the scenes, whilst lingering and sadistic, have no sense of tension at all. Jones is a one-trick pony at best and can't cut the mustard with the menace unless he's actually going to kick someone's teeth in. He should look like a darkly magical murderous beast, instead he looks like what he is, a football thug. Furthermore, the few “money shots” that aren't overly forced are still equally ruined by the overly smooth use of CGI. Nothing you are seeing looks remotely real, coming across more like a particularly bloodthirsty media student's final project.

Beyond this, the film loses out in the time-old way that novels fail to be adapted adequately into films; all that is implied, hinted at, or subtly touched upon in the story, is lain out for all to see in the film, cheapening it. Everything else in the film is then mere padding. Where the film sticks to the source material, it fails to crank up the cheese factor to entertaining levels, something the Saw franchise did perfectly; elsewhere, it reduces or misses the point of what occurs in Barker's piece and fails to pick up on the high-brow scares.

Ultimately, there's nothing here to recommend. I can't even give it the accolade of being bad. Clive Barker: Genius, but rubbish taste in films.

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