If you’re looking for a solid hour and forty-three minutes of extremely graphic gore and some good old-fashioned nonsense: The Midnight Meat Train is definitely for you.
If, however, like me, you are exhausted by watching yet another film that leaves equality out of the equation: You may want to skip this one. This is one of those films where falling back on stereotypes, misogyny, and underrepresentation seems like the lazy way out. Listen, I’m buying into the fact that there’s an ancient race of monsters under a major American city that require an order of humans to deliver dead bodies to them via subway car every night… You really think there being a female protagonist is gonna be where I draw the line believability-wise? Reality has already been abandoned and you’ve got the most receptive audience, horror fans, in the theatre… Why not take advantage of your creative freedom and break some barriers?
Here’s the breakdown: The director is a dude, the writers are dudes, and all of the producers are dudes. There’s your first mistake. Sometimes it feels like men don’t know that women are literate or capable of operating a camera. If that’s the case, let me clear up any confusion: We are both literate and able to operate digital devices. Let us help now and again. The protagonist is a dude, the antagonist is a dude, they’re both white, and the protagonist’s girlfriend appears to be in a constant state of terror and submission. There’s even a sex scene that would theoretically be consensual but seemed really rapey to me. Her miserable face does not scream enthusiastic consent.
The black representation is, as usual, terrible. They’re portrayed as a street gang about to sexually assault an Asian woman (who thanks stranger Bradley Cooper for saving her by making out with him just after a knife was on her face) and a mentally unhinged geurilla soldier type who yells a vague Forrest Gump quote before engaging in combat with the bad guy.
And just when you thought they’d at LEAST make it through the movie with no blatant sexual degradation… Here come the dead lady boobs. A fully naked and fully deceased blonde lady getting hauled around like meat, but not until after we get a good look at her boobs.
The writer, Clive Barker, is known for his Hellraiser movies which, admittedly, I’ve never seen. I can only assume that this absurdist type horror is his specialty, and in that regard The Midnight Meat Train does not disappoint. It’s over-the-top, dramatic, and clean with a pretty consistent style. We all turn off our moral centers every now and again to enjoy a movie (I was at a midnight screening for Snakes On A Plane, after all), but I have to admit: It’s disheartening to know that even in a fantasy world where strange barnacle-chested butchers slaughter humans on the subway, I still don’t figure into the equation in an equitable and substantive way.
What’s a girl gotta do to be a slasher around here?