Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Step away from the meat.

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Clive Barker is one of the most renowned horror and fantasy writers of our time. Along with Stephen King, Clive Barker put true horror novels out in the front line and made them really popular. These godfathers of the modern horror novels were great at what they did so it was obvious that a lot of their works would be made into movies. While Stephen King's films have been met with great praise, a lot have also been met with horrible and mediocre reviews. Barker however, besides the cult classic Hellraiser, has had trouble with reviews. But in 2008 Clive Barker, Japanese superstar Ryuhei Kitamura and Jeff Buhler set out to remake one of Barkers short stories known as The Midnight Meat Train.

From the title alone and looking at the cover you can tell this movie has gore on the mind. And it does, a lot of it. Except unlike other horror/slasher films this one has an art to it. Maybe that sounds dark but this film is done and shot extremly well. The visual effects of the subway, the slow motion effects of one murder and another murder from the victims point of view and every camera shot and angle is used to great effect. Its use of deep focus, racked zooming and quick camera reveals all feel natural, never forced and are truly frightening.

From the first five minutes this film makes its point clear: A man is walking on a subway and slips. When he gets up he is covered in blood. There are more gallons of blood in this movie than I have seen in a long time. It makes Saw 1-6 and both Hostels look like a shot glass of blood. Its that Japanese style set in an American setting. And it works unusually well.

The acting is something that also blew me away. Vinnie Jones, an ex football player turned actor is truly unnerving. He never speaks except for one word and the occasional grunt. He is a real person, not some creep in a mask and that truly makes it more frightening. His eyes are cold and dull, his walk is slow and steady, he is able to give a truly terrifying and humbling performance without saying a word. In an odd casting choice that I didnt see coming Bradley Cooper plays Leon, the main character. Cooper is a truly underrated actor. This is his first true horror film with his only other thriller role being My Little Eye (his second film). He is a comic genius and the perfect sidekick but he is REALLY good at the serious. You really feel for his character in this movie and he really brings a sense of being in his shoes in the movie. He draws you in and pulls at you never letting you go. What he sees, you see. He is absolutly brilliant in this role. Leslie Bibb, who plays Maya (Leon's fiancee), isnt as good as Cooper and Jones but she does well with what she has. She is never the dumb damsel in distress and she compliments Cooper well. Roger Bart, who plays Jurgis (Leons friend) does well but feels more like a bit part then an actual character. He is good but how good can you be if you are only in the film for a few minutes. The same goes for an unexpected cameo from Brooke Shields who plays a famous art dealer. She plays snooty well but I can count on one hand how long she is in the movie for so its hard to judge her.

The story itself is simple but gets complicated quick. Leon is a photographer trying to make it big. While shooting at night he saves a young model who then dissapears the next day. Leon investigates and learns about "The Butcher."

Its a truly breathtaking movie. It is a breath of fresh air in an unusually stale genre. It will change your mind on how horror movies should be made and how they should be handled. It is definetly in my top 4 for scariest film of the decade and it truly is mind blowing. If you have a weak stomach than stay away from this movie. Otherwise it is a great watch for Halloween or any time of the year. This is a definite cult classic in the making.


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