Mini Review Day 09: The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
It is kind of bizarre to think that The Midnight Meat Train (2008) was originally going to be a sequel to Candyman (1992), both were based on Clive Baker works but fairly different. There is a strange beauty that lies within the works of Clive Baker, and that has mostly translated well to film. The Midnight Meat Train does have a strange beauty to it, the framing of the film is quite stunning, perhaps the real beauty here is within the absolute horror contained throughout.
The film focuses on Leon (Bradley Cooper), a photographer desperate to impress Art Gallery owner Susan (Brooke Shields) no matter what it takes. One night while he is trying to find the perfect shot he sees a young woman being attacked by thugs. He photographs the incident and gets the attackers away, he finds out the next day the woman he saw has gone missing. Despite protests from his girlfriend Maya (Leslie Bibb), Leon continues to investigate what happened to the woman, which leads him into crossing paths with a big well suited up man (Vinnie Jones) who works as a butcher. In is with this meeting that Leon will discover a terrifying truth, one that he could never have imagined.
This is a really fun film, some humour, lots of gore, intense sequences and a brooding monster that is equal parts terrifying and well dressed. The mind of Clive Baker has come up with some truly memorable stories, and this one is no different. It is an original story and a fresh take on the serial killer/slasher genre, with many good twists and turns along the way. The mystery element is well done, as the audience is along for the ride with Leon, knowing no more than he does. Trying to work out what is going on and why is a fun task, there are so many possibilities that seeing it unfold is a real treat.
Vinnie Jones absolutely steals the film, he is fantastic in every scene he’s in and manages a really strong performance without speaking a word. It’s a great role for the man and it does show his range as an actor and it would be great to see him in more roles like this. This is an early film role for Bradley Cooper who showed so much screen presence, which actually shone bright and made up for a fairly average performance. Leslie Bibb was quite good here, she’s got a lot to offer as an actress and she had some great scenes to showcase that. The direction by Ryûhei Kitamura was quite good and well handled especially with some of the crazier scenes. He is a very visual director and likes to have fun with his scenes, something very apparent with Versus (2000) one of his early films.
The Midnight Meat Train is fun and enjoyable, it’s only true let down is some rather poor CGI gore that doesn’t suit the visuals. Worth a watch for Vinnie Jones alone, the film has a lot to offer and is a good example of the strength with 00’s horror.
Mini Review Day 10: Crimson Peak (2015)
It is a shame that Crimson Peak (2015) didn’t do well at the Box Office upon release, having some competition hurt its chances of being a wider seen film. Perhaps it has become more appreciated now several years after release, as it is a fun and engaging ghost story with a great cast. Guillermo del Toro is a master craftsman, visually his films are mesmerising and the stories are always compelling to watch.
Taking place in Victorian Era, the main character is Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), whose mother died when she was young and her ghost seems to be watching over her. As a grown woman, she meets English inventor Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddelston), who is seeking investment for a drilling machine from Edith’s father Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver). He’s a mysterious man, who Carter doesn’t like or trust but he’s winning over Edith. Edith’s childhood friend Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) has returned to town to run his practice and he too doesn’t seem convinced of Mr. Sharpe and his intentions. Sharpe hasn’t come alone and his equally as mysterious sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) is with him. It is clear the Sharpe’s have an agenda with Edith, but what secrets are they hiding?
The film is spectacular to look at, the visuals are a marvel, from the vibrant colours, to the extravagant sets and beautiful costumes. A lot of love was put into making the film, it really shows too. The ghosts are CGI and mostly they work too, perhaps not as macabre as they could have been. The film is reminiscent of the under seen gem Haunted (1995), with some similarities that work for both films. There is a nice pace with Crimson Peak, there doesn’t seem to be a wasted moment. Particularly great is the nice touch with using metaphors, ghosts representing the past and leaving those ghosts behind.
Performance wise the stand outs are Tom Hiddelston and Jessica Chastain who have immersed themselves into the roles of Thomas and Lucille, their scenes are among the best in the film. Mia Wasikowska is solid as Edith, she has always had a wonderful screen presence and she does well here. Jim Beaver was really good, while his role was supporting he lit up the screen when he was on. The only weaker side to the performances is Charlie Hunnam, who is a great actor in his own right, but the American accent seemed to let him down.
While Crimson Peak isn’t one of the best del Toro films, it is a great entry into his filmography. His films have their own flavour and feel, with a fantasy element that brings it all together. Love is generally a heavy theme in his films, it is a much welcome part here. If you haven’t seen this film, it is well worth the time, a modern underrated ghost story.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea