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The Midnight Meat Train

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.

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Slaughtered Ox, 1638

Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes, c. 1612-1613

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.

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