A stylishly photographed but woefully thinly characterized slice of stalking terror, The Midnight Meat Train is a grim, bloody genre offering purely for hardcore horror fans. An adaptation of Clive Barker’s same-named short story, the movie can’t hold up in comparison to The Strangers, a far more skillful evocation of dread from earlier this summer, but it does possess a passably intriguing blend of artfulness and intensity, courtesy chiefly of director Ryuhei Kitamura.
Though they have the fifth installment in the lucrative Saw franchise not too far around the corner, distributor Lionsgate seems to be looking to distance themselves a bit from the horror game by fulfilling the contractual obligation of a theatrical release for this film, but dumping it in a scattered assortment of discount to mid-range theaters nationwide, including no single major venue within the greater Los Angeles area.
The English language debut of Japanese filmmaker Kitamura, The Midnight Meat Train finds a way to tweak and enliven standard-issue genre visuals much better than did fellow Japanese director Masayuki Ochiai in Shutter. The film’s cinematography and creative framing mitigates, or at least masks, much of the depravity of the narrative, which is the difference between this and mental rot like last summer’s Captivity, which was merely the nasty playing out of a string, a series of strung-together, artificially flavored torture sequences. There’s still a good bit of that grim sadism here, but The Midnight Meat Train has a certain tonal authenticity, not unlike Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. For the full review, from Screen International, click here.