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The Midnight Meat Train: A Movie Review

Updated on August 15, 2011

The Midnight Meat Train is a tale of a photographer, Leon (Bradley Cooper), looking for his break into presenting his work to the right circles. When advice from a gallery owner (Brooke Shields) spurs him into dangerous territory, he soon finds himself gravitating toward a more grisly subject, a supposed serial killer, Mahogany (Vinnie Jones). The more clues he puts together, the more obsessed he becomes. Leon's girlfriend, Maya (Leslie Bibb), becomes terrified that he's losing his mind as he becomes more disheveled and infatuated with unraveling the mystery of where Mahogany's victims are disappearing.

When I watch a horror film, I want it to make me cringe and look away. I want it to make me yell at the screen, "Don't go in there!" The Midnight Meat Train delivered. The dialogue leaves a little something to be desired, but that's a common complaint for many horror movies. What it lacks in script, it makes up for in gore and suspense.

Vinnie Jones makes for an ominous villain as a butcher who rides the night train every evening after work. Even without speaking, his stature and furrowed brow present a threatening antagonist. And with his size, comes power, which brings up the blood and gore factor quickly. With a bit of fight action thrown in here and there, the movie will have your steadfast attention.

Bradley Cooper conveys a believable development as he begins the movie as a struggling photographer and progresses to a man engulfed in a twisted obsession. He begins by catching a clue to a missing woman on camera, and as he investigates, finds out there is much more going on. He slips into delirium as he collects news clippings of missing people and the butcher that may be responsible for them. Cooper gives us a character we can't get enough of. There's a scene when Leon is following the killer to his job at the meat packing plant. He begins taking photos of Mahogany inconspicuously and soon pulls the camera up to see more, every moment daring himself to push just a little farther. When Mahogany turns and sees him, Leon ducks behind a machine and for a moment, during the excitement of the adrenaline, you see him flash a look as if to say "What the hell am I doing?!" And just in that one moment, Bradley portrayed the sense that anyone could become this obsessed given the right set of circumstances. While there's a glimpse of fear amidst the adrenaline, there seems to be a strange calm as he contemplates what his next move will be. And for a brief moment, there's a look of disbelief in his expression. He can't even grasp his own actions at this point. And the next day, when the known vegetarian takes a bite of his friend's steak and licks the juices from his fingers, I suddenly felt my own mouth water with the need for meat. Cooper knows his character to the core and emotes with precision.

Leslie Bibb holds her own as the girlfriend that goes from doting to concerned to equally entwined in the mystery. While we often see her in lighter roles, the change was a refreshing reminder that she doesn’t have to get laughs to hold your attention. She, too, helped carry the lackluster script by giving us the necessary expressions to illustrate what the story needs to communicate.

Even though this movie wasn't on the top must-see lists, it is definitely worth watching. The cast helped bring it to life. And if you're looking to be scared to death, this is one train you don't want to miss.


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