x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The Midnight Meat Train

The twist at the end of the film is intellectually satisfying, thanks to its origins in a well-crafted short story, but, ultimately, is let down a little by poor execution.

The Midnight Meat Train is based on a short story of the same name by the horror supremo Clive Barker, published in 1984. The film opens with a suitably grisly tableau as a character known simply as The Butcher, (Vinnie Jones), dispatches passengers on a late-night subway train with brutal efficiency. We then meet Leon (Bradley Cooper), a budding photographer who is attempting to impress a gallery owner by taking his images of urban life to the next level. One night, while scouring the streets of New York for subjects, he encounters The Butcher emerging from a station. Rightly suspecting that this mysterious stranger has a secret, Leon becomes obsessed, tracking him down to the hotel where he lives and the meatpacking plant where he works during the day. But as he gets closer to the truth, he realises that uncovering it will put his life in danger. Jones puts in a surprisingly nuanced performance in an entirely non-speaking part, and the Japanese director Ryûhei Kitamura, making his American feature-film debut, does a deft job of creating atmosphere and of making The Butcher and his nightly subway rampages intriguing rather than simply bloody and terrifying. The twist at the end of the film is intellectually satisfying, thanks to its origins in a well-crafted short story, but, ultimately, is let down a little by poor execution - probably thanks to a shortfall in the special-effects budget. After a great build-up, this ending should feel mythic, but, sadly, it doesn't.