Critessential Creepy Collection: The Midnight Meat Train

Warning: This is not a documentary about food transportation

This is intended to be the first of this October's series focusing on lesser known, but fantastically frightening horror films. None of these will be for the faint of heart, and The Midnight Meat Train, like any film based on Clive Barker's body of work, is certainly graphic and fearsome.

The story follows Leon Kaufman, a vegan photographer (Bradley Cooper) whose life intersects with a suspicious man (Vinnie Jones) who carries a doctor's bag and rides the night train. A series of disappearances leads Leon to suspect the man, and what follows is a suspenseful back-and-forth of stalking and grisly murder.

Indeed, this is the first article I've done in a while with no supplementary pictures. This is largely because the relentless pacing and intense gore this film provides makes it difficult to find SFW images. Kitamura, the director, does a brilliant job of maintaining intense physical conflict with near preposterously violent outcomes.

Most horror films I've seen have this tendency to either show a bit of the murderous action, then pan away to imply the rest. Others, often called torture porn, focus entirely on the bloody details. Kitamura finds a unique common ground that is twice as effective: he finds a reason to pan away at the crescendo of blood-letting, then finds yet another reason to force the spectacle back into the viewer's sight. These reasons vary, but they are all cleverly orchestrated and brilliantly choreographed. Despite his spotty track record, If I may be so bold I would dub Kitamura "The Michael Bay of Horror." I wish he and Zombie or del Toro would collaborate on something, as his direction is flawless but needs a source material to truly shine.

The suspense of Leon stalking the serial killer, and the serial killer stalking Leon, as well as the numerous twists and turns that don't let up until the very last scene, makes The Midnight Meat Train a must-see. If I were reviewing this for a newspaper or something I'd probably leave the last line as something kitschy like "There are no brakes on this midnight meat train!" but instead I just urge you to make this film part of your Halloween media menu this October.