Can you believe that Midnight Meat Train (the film) is almost ten years old? That blows my freaking mind. I remember watching this puppy when it was released on video – it looked dark and dank and nihilist. In other words, totally up my alley. I’m happy to report that I love this movie. As such, here are five reasons you should drop everything and watch a horror movie on a fine evening this weekend.
#1 – It’s a good adaptation
First thing’s first: this film is an adaptation of a short story by Clive Barker. If you know me – whether personally or through this site – you’ll know that I completely love Barker’s work. (Who’s got two thumbs and totally plunked down sweet moolah for a signed anniversary copy of The Thief of Always? THIS GIRL.) Writer Jeff Buhler helped bring this film to life with the help of Midnight Picture Show, a company headed up by Barker himself. So yes, this adaptation does not suck. Quite the opposite. The entire team – from actors to producers to writing to lighting – made sure that the transition went smoothly. The love put into it shows.
#2 – Vinnie Jones is the cold-blooded killer we always knew he was
Vinnie Jones is a former footballer (I refuse to say “soccer player” because that’s fucking insulting to anyone that digs the real football); as such, he’s not a tiny guy. He can also convey “I am going to murder you” with one look. Now, given, Jones can also do comedy (personally, I’d love to see a vehicle where he’s some child’s tutu-wearing imaginary friend, with a penchant for tea parties), and I enjoy that as well, but there’s something magical about menacing Jones. As Mahogany – a wordless killer that rides the subway system – he’s silent and vicious, which makes him infinitely more creepy. There’s something terrifying about someone who doesn’t flinch and will kill you without blinking. Jones is perfect for the job.
#3 – The lighting is good
Oh do I love the lighting in this film. I’m a bit of a sucker for well-done, appropriate lighting; I have long said that one day, if I ever come into money, one of the two things I will buy for the day is a good lighting team (the second being a pyrotechnic team, because I want to walk into a parent-teacher conference with a flourish). I’ll be completely honest, it didn’t shock me to learn that Anthony DiBlasi had a hand in this film – DiBlasi has this thing for giving his films an overcast, sickly pallor, which increases the uneasy tone without even trying. That influence is felt here, even though Ryuhei Kitamura directed it. Just goes to show you that this method shouldn’t be underestimated.
#4 – It raises a good question of art versus safety
Ever look at an image and wonder, “Why wasn’t the photographer helping that person?!” I can’t be the only one that thinks this way. This story touches upon that idea: what makes edgy art is sometimes capturing that terrible moment for eternity, knowing full well that the person behind the camera could have stopped everything and helped prevent someone’s personal tragedy. The tragic event is then frozen in time, a continual reminder of the tug-of-war between shining light on an atrocity or actually stopping it. It’s a great moment to give pause and wonder if the moment deserves more attention than the suffering human in front of you.
#5 – The seedy underbelly
The concept of this film is one that we’d rather not address: the lurking feeling that a darker side of life churns on, and while we sleepwalk through life, there’s something terribly dark working behind the scenes in ways we don’t want to imagine. That’s half the shock of finding out about a secret double life or horrible crimes: we’re unsure of how this happened, and at times, we’d rather not know that such darkness exists. It’s the gaze into that discomfort that makes this worthwhile. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Midnight Meat Train is available on Netflix, so stream away, my friends, and don’t ride the subway too late.