2008’s The Midnight Meat Train (MMT) is something unusual: a good movie made from a Clive Barker story.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Clive Barker’s writing, but aside from Hellraiser, there aren’t many film adaptations of his work that I can point to and say, “this is a good movie.” Well, there is one more and this is it.
Based on a short story of the same name from the Books of Blood collection, MMT tells the story of a talented photographer in New York City by the name of Leon (played by Bradley Cooper), who after showing some of his pictures to a wealthy Galley owner Susan Hoff (played by the still beautiful Brook Shields), is spurred on to capture the true, grittiness of the City. Going out on night shoots, Leon captures a near mugging/rape of a famous model. Still, despite saving her from a gang of thugs, she disappears that night when she is attacked by a large, silently imposing man, known simply as Mahogany (and played by Vinnie Jones), with a meat hammer on the subway . Hearing of the disappearance the next day while reading the paper, he decides to go to the police, thinking that perhaps the thugs, after being initially scared off, might have come back and got on the same train as the model. When Leon brings this to the attention of the police, the officer that serves him seems strangely unconcerned.
Leon shows the photos he took of the near rape/mugging to Hoff, who states she loves them and challenges him to get two more photos to go along with these and she would host a showing of his work. Leon takes up the challenge. Returning to the subways, Leon notices a large silent figure that catches his imagination. The figure is that of Mahogany himself. Leon follows him, taking pictures, until wordlessly confronted by him in front of the aging hotel that Mahogany calls home. Frightened, Leon apologizes for bothering him and leaves. Later, when going over his photos of the incident of the model, he notices that Mahogany was on the train that the model entered, but never got off. Leon starts to obsess over Mahogany and continues following him, discovering that during the day he works at a large scale butcher, as a meat renderer. Leon sneaks into the butcher to get more photos, and is almost caught by Mahogany. Leon starts to connect other disappearances that had occurred on the New York Subway line with train schedules. He works out that below the butcher shop, there must be an abandoned subway station, where Mahogany unloads the bodies and gets rid of the evidence. He presents this to his fiancé, in a scene reminiscent of something from the movie A Beautiful Mind. Freaked out and thinking Leon is going crazy, she begs him to stop following Mahogany and get back to day shooting. Leon promises… But goes back to following Mahogany. That night, he catches Mahogany in the act, photographing the scene while Mahogany prepares the body of his victim like one would prepare meat. Chased, captured, marked (via scarification) and eventually escaping, Leon now knows for sure that Mahogany is behind the disappearances. Returning home, beaten and disturbed, his fiancé freaking out – he tells her what he saw and that he took phots but the camera was taken from him during his ordeal. On her own volition, she and a friend decide to go to Mahogany’s room after he leaves and look for Leon’s camera – While there, she finds subway schedules going back a century, with train times circled that correlate to disappearances that happened. Also… her friend is captured and bludgeoned by Mahogany, and she barely escapes with her life. Going to the police, the same officer that dealt with Leon shows the same level of unconcern and stated that Mahogany reported something stolen, the train schedules, and that he wants them back. Claiming that her friend, who was captured by Mahogany has it, and if they want the schedules, they have to find him.
Okay… what the hell am I doing? I’m freakin’ describing the whole freakin’ movie. Look – Mahogany is a guy that has a job, and that job is to help feed… something inhuman. It’s an important job and he would normally have gone unnoticed, but something in Leon’s make up made him attune to Mahogany. At the end of the movie, all is revealed, and it is a typical Clive Barker twisted concept – an idea that below the surface of what we as normal humans perceive, there is another world of darkness – the stuff nightmares are made of. Midnight Meat Train did a good job of bringing that world to the big screen. Do I suggest watching it? Oh Hell yes.
Check out the trailer here: