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Review The Midnight Meat Train (2008): Lovecraftian or gay porn?

genre: horror, mystery

The first time I watched this I was on the edge of my seat. Now many years later I find myself disappointed.

The Midnight Meat Train has a rather compelling mystery. Who is this butcher who randomly kills people on the midnight train? Why is he doing this? And how come he has never been caught? When Leon (Bradley Cooper) gets confronted with this serial killer played by Vinnie Jones the game is a foot. It doesn't take long before he is fully obsessed. He is very willing to embrace the dangers yet at the same time is terrified of what he is going to find out. Now one could view this as a psychological journey or even an allegory in relation to homosexuality. Honestly I wasn't even aware until I read someone mention this is in a forum. Considering writer Clive Barker is openly gay it could very well be that this is an important theme.* If like me you aren't aware then you still have other elements to sink your teeth in. The buildup and the way events play out it's quite obvious that Clive Barker was very inspired by Lovecraft. No, it doesn't reference any of the Cthulhu deities but it certainly is very reminiscent of cosmic horror. The story easily could have been written by H.P. Lovecraft. 

Then again it does lack the depth and dread of Lovecraft's work. Next to bloody and gory horror Lovecraft usually told tales that are terrifying in their own right. The Midnight Meat Train at one point just falls flat. Since it can't be bothered to give that extra meat you are craving for. Yes pun intended. By that of course I mean substance. Basically it is asked of you to go with the flow without getting any explanation in return. Now one could argue for keeping things abstract and mysterious. Had the film managed to keep me on the edge of my seat and had me gasp in awe and shock of what I just had witnessed, I would have been a believer for sure. Unfortunately at the end you will wonder why things turn out the way they do. It just is not interesting or scare enough. Not that I want a full explanation. However I do want the experience shock in the sense of being pleasantly surprised due to sheer terror or fright. The Midnight Meat Train in that sense fails to deliver.

Decent enough to watch once. And only once.

*For people who are offended by my statement. Clive Barker himself basically admitted that the subtext was homosexual. In the audio commentary track on the DVD / Blu-ray.


Anonymous said...

Why does everything have to be about homosexuality just because he's gay? Just because it was a theme in one of his stories, doesn't mean every one is about homosexuality in one way or another. Sometimes it's really just a good ol' horror story.

chrichtonsworld.com said...

Because he himself basically admitted that the subtext was homosexual. In the audio commentary track on the DVD / Blu-ray.

And think about it. The antagonist is called Mahogany, hard wood. Our protagonist is obsessed by him so much so that he only gets satisfied by enacting anal sex on his girlfriend. Midnight meat train? Beating his meat? Come on!

Again this is not what I had noticed myself. But several people have pointed out that the story contains closeted text. That next to the straight story, the good ol' horror story there is a story concerning gay sex.




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