The Midnight Meat Train Review

Published 6 years ago by

Short version: The Midnight Meat Train fulfills expectations in the gore department, but completely surprises by providing a solid story as well.

clive barkers midnight meat train 03 The Midnight Meat Train Review
Screen Rant reviews The Midnight Meat Train

[Editor’s Note: This is Bruce Simmons’ first “official” movie review for Screen Rant]

First, I have to preface this with the fact that I have not seen a lot of films based on Clive Barker’s work.  The idea of excessive gore just doesn’t work for me and I tend to dodge or duck movies that contain it.  If I find myself stuck in a movie like this, I tend to squint.  It blurs the details and I can get through it.  My only exposure to Barker’s work has been Hellraiser and Candyman.  I remember being grossed out with Hellraiser, but that’s that.  I’ve usually run screaming from the room when I hear a Clive Barker project is coming on the screen.  It’s embarrassing, really, but I can’t help it.

I watched The Midnight Meat Train (screenplay by Jeff Buhler) on and sat through the standard character development that at first seemed fairly mundane.  But being mundane, it just sets you up for later developments.  Japanese filmmaker, director Ryûhei Kitamura did his job with this one.

clive barkers midnight meat train 01p The Midnight Meat Train ReviewLeon Kauffman (Bradley Cooper) is a photographer looking to take his photography to the next level and have it displayed in an art gallery, hoping for his first break.  He likes photographing the city and things within it, but it’s not enough for the prominent art gallerist Susan Hoff (Brooke Shields).  She wants him to take it the next level and get more grit, more of the real emotion of the city.

His pursuit of this darker element of the city takes his path across a stoic, wordless, meticulous butcher named Mahogany.  No, really, that’s his day job!  A butcher.   Mahogany is played by Vinnie Jones.  You might remember him as Juggernaut from X-Men: The Last Stand.

As Leon delves into the background of Mahogany, things get more complicated as he realizes that he’s on the trail of what looks like a serial killer.  Mahogany apparently has killed many people, and dumps the unfortunate victims off somewhere.  He locates his victims on the late train of the day, as the title suggests.

clive barkers midnight meat train 05 The Midnight Meat Train ReviewPursuing this murderer sucks Leon and his girlfriend, Maya (Leslie Bibb) into the intricate situation of why Mahogany does what he does.  And let me tell you, it is not only a complete surprise, but the infrastructure of people who know what he’s doing is surprising as well.  The real shock comes in the the nature of the real threat and the resolution of the situation.

Despite my really wanting to say how the story ends, to say anything more would ruin how you get set up for the story and the payoff.  (Sorry)


Bradley Cooper delivers a great performance.  From being the ever hopeful, struggling and hard working photographer to the traumatized victim of circumstance, he is rather believable.  I was a little gray on the end game, but I still really enjoyed the twist end and could overlook the vagueness of how he got there.

Brooke Shields has come a long way from an innocent girl on an island, to Suddenly Susan and most recently, the hard working executive on Lipstick Jungle.  In Midnight Meat Train, she’s an art gallery owner who prefers her male photographers good looking and single.  Her role is integral to Leon’s projection into his predicament, but not much more.  It’s a believable but short role.

Leslie Bibb (I just saw her in Iron Man… as the reporter who ignites the fires under Tony Stark) plays a role that confused me.  At first, she’s the supportive girlfriend who’s behind her photog boyfriend.  As Leon discovers the truth behind Mahogany, Maya tries to dissuade him from getting too deep in this dark assignment.  In the end, she gets right in the middle of it and it just doesn’t gel with me, but that’s fine.  Her role fulfills a piece of plot destiny by the tale’s end.

Maybe I’m off in the head a bit, but I liked English-born actor and ex-footballer, Vinnie Jones.  His portrayal of Mahogany is stoic and silent, yet his message is delivered clearly.  The main tool of his hobby is a massive silver hammer/meat tenderizer.  Whether he uses it as a tool of crime or weapon of defense, he puts this hammer to good use.  Almost like a modern day, dark Thor.  His silent approach to the character does not hamper his role one bit.  His victims are treated just like as he would slabs of meat at his day job:  He meticulously dresses their bodies before taking their bodies to his dumping ground.

I can’t believe it, but I may actually be looking forward to this when it hits the DVD world in February of 2009.  If you don’t mind gore, I think you’d come away really enjoying this particular 1 hour and 40 minute train ride, all the way through to the end of the day, or midnight that is.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  1. It was thanks to Screen Rant that I saw this movie, although I think it was someone called Patrick who posted a link that I was able to view (being in the UK).

    I really enjoyed it. Good, dark, gorey stuff. Thought the quiet tone was very suited to it as well.
    I’m not much of a fan of Vinnie Jones, but he was definitely good in this. Guess the less he says the better. 😉

    Pretty different from Kitamura’s usually fast and frantic style too.

  2. If this is the same Leslie Bibb, the smart-a– reporter who finally has sex with Tony Stark, but presses questioning him, I’m not buying that this female has any acting talent at all, except for being eye-candy for viewers that expect nothing but looks anymore from actresses. She’s just another excuse to throw a super-model type into a movie, then try pathetically to make her appear “strong” or a force to be reconed with.

    Either let her do Lifetime channel, men are garbage roles, or put her in porn, since she obviously is working just off her looks anyway. Anyone relate this to one Megan Fox?

    Probably not…………….

  3. I read the story this was based on and it was good , it scarred the crap out of me !!!
    I’m a fan of Vinnie Jones and I think Cooper is talented as well. That being said , I’m not going anywhere near this flick. Myself , I’m just not a fan of gore on the big screen.
    If this movie is half as gruesome as the story ( from Books Of Blood , I believe ) then the gore fans will go apes**t for this one :)

  4. LOL Bruce, for me it’s the opposite. I get bored in horror movies because I know it’s fake. So unless there is something else about it to make it enjoyable besides the gore, I probably wouldn’t like it. Maybe I’ll rent this one now if you say the story was actually decent.

    Isn’t this yet another movie Lionsgate butchered that made it straight to DVD when it should have been released in theaters? I hate Lionsgate…

  5. Oh wait, is this out in theaters? Oops, I thought I read somewhere that they made this straight to DVD for some reason… nevermind…

  6. Charles: Nope… she played the role well throughout. A good supportive role.

    RastaZen: I’m not a fan either. I was surprised with this flick that drew me in enough to watch it all the way through. The gore was manageable… trust me, it was!

    Ken J: It had a very limited release to around 100 screens, then went to DVD.

  7. I’m sold on this movie.

    By the way does anyone know how this movie did at the box office? I swear I was going to watch it when came out but I must missed it in all the somewhere in all commotion about comic movies. I guess the Dark King really stole the thunder from a lot of movies.

  8. I loved this flick. I’m a huge Barker fan and felt the movie really stayed true to the darkness of the story and did it justice. It’s not about the gore (plenty of it and well done) it’s about over coming fear, addiction, and loosing one’s self. There’s a dark side to selling out. “Who” is all connected in this fantasy horror thriller just adds to the creepiness.

    P.S. Great job Bruce!

  9. TalynRider: Thanks.

  10. Kick aas review Bruce, !!!
    I didn’t realise the story was more than a slasher pic.
    It sounds intense!
    I’m gonna get this on dvd. The actor that plays Mahogany scares me in real life. That guy looks like a part time actor full time,serial killer.

  11. idk… the ending really threw me off… and i saw it coming a mile away…


    … when cooper’s character got abducted. anyway… i enjoyed the whole thing right up until the end, which left me with the same feeling i got with the ending of wes craven’s Pulse… it left with the expected and the dry cultist conspiracy crap. the gore was good… but i mean cmon… vinnie cant be strong enough to spray a guys eyes out with one blow….

    stay away from this one kids… the end does not justify the means… literally.

  12. 90% of the movie struck me as run of the mill Clive Barker, but the end did shock me. It made me rethink the whole thing and I might watch it again sometime.