Add “The Midnight Meat Train” to the list of horror flicks which stopped only briefly in your neighborhood theater.
But that only tells a part of the story.
Some of the better horror movies in recent years have either gone straight to video or made a perfunctory theatrical bow. Meanwhile, clunkers like “The Uninvited” enjoy mass distribution. DVD has been a boon to horror fanatics, with superior titles like “Rogue” and “Eden Lake” emerging as strong titles taking up space at the local Blockbuster.
Now there’s “Midnight Meat Train,” based on a grisly short story by Clive Barker. If you don’t mind gore galore, it’s a helluva ride until the pat ending.
The film, out Feb. 17 on DVD, follows a photographer named Leon (Bradley Cooper) desperate to break through with his art. A local gallery doyenne (Brooke Shields) tells him his work is good … but not good enough, sending Leon back to the city’s mean streets to capture gutsier images.
His treks put him in contact with Mahogany (a perfectly cast Vinnie Jones), a killer who rides the subway trains each night in search of, ahem, fresh meat.
What follows is unrelentingly brutal, but every drop of blood is as delivered with panache. It’s bone bruising entertainment, delivered with the right balance of intensity and character development. Leon’s crumbling relationship with his girlfriend (Leslie Bibb) is vital to us caring about Leon’s fate.
If only “Train’s” final stop was worthy of the rest of its trip. The ending explains plenty, but it doesn’t pack a horrific punch nor does it add to the film’s bleak mood.
Still, “The Midnight Meat Train” is taut, tense entertainment, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
(Photo: Vinnie Jones plays a silent train rider carrying some sharp objects in his briefcase in “The Midnight Meat Train.”)