Like Anthony DiBlasi’s Dread (discussed in this earlier post) The Midnight Meat Train is based on a short story by Clive Barker. It’s not as strong psychologically as Dread, but it’s one hell of a stylish film. The most arresting scenes occur on the subway late at night, where a vicious serial killer is seemingly at work. (Don’t you just love a horror movie with a public transport angle?) Director Ryuhei Kitamura uses a stylised combination of symmetry, light and speed in a manner suggestive of Japanese anime. In contrast with the sped-up subway scenes, moments of violence are often played in extreme slow motion, jets of blood suspended in mid-air. Later, when things get much—meatier (and I don’t want to give anything away) Kitamura presents scenes of aestheticised horror that have an almost Baroque beauty, putting me in mind of Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Slaying Holofernes, or a still life by Rembrandt.
Stylistic qualities aside, much of the film’s menace emanates from a perfectly cast Vinnie Jones in the character of the Butcher. His pained, almost mute performance is strangely mesmerising—the still point around which this fast-moving film revolves.