15 October 2008 | chaos-rampant
MMT is exactly what the title implies - fast and brutal
There's something deeply disturbing about the 'show biz' politics and intrigues that managed to exile such a well made film to the 'dollar theaters'. On the other hand, horror purists of all calibre will probably get a kick out of seeing the visceral shocks and convoluted twists Riuhei Kitamura and Clibe Barker have prepared for our enjoyment in the environment of a seedy, rundown theater. If the disturbed denizens of 42nd Street have all but disappeared, scared away by the gloss and glitz of the cineplex and the popcorn munching crowd that inhabits it, perhaps the final bastion of grindhouse cinema can be found in watching a brutal, bloody shock horror film in an empty theater with row upon row of sticky floor and no one but a handful of genre enthusiasts there with you.
There's also something deeply disturbing about the mentality of the movie-watching public. That a, by the look of it, worse sequel (and I'll be surprised if it's any better than its predecessors) will gross more than MMT, simply because of a household franchise name, a shot of a tape player and someone musing off screen "I want to play a game...", seems to confirm UK grinders Napalm Death motto "the public gets what the public doesn't want".
That's not to say that MMT is an excellent horror flick. No, far from it. But it does exactly what it says on the tin and then some. If the pace slackens a bit after the balls-to-the-wall pummeling that is the first half hour, it is salvaged by Kitamura's (intentional or not) decision to channel the dark, neon-noir of David Fincher.
If the CGI blood is a sign of things to come in the field of mainstream American horror or a leftover from Kitamura's days in Japan, that's for him to know. What Kitamura brings in his cinematic baggage however is his distinct stylistic hallmarks - when the camera repeatedly spins around a train wagon in motion, one will be hard pressed not to recall a similar rotating camera trick from AZUMI. A long overhead crane shot seems to combine the off-kilter axis games of Argento with Tarantino's now-famous crane shot in KILL BILL.
If some people complain that the editing and style appear to be too music video-ish, I will respectfully disagree and point them in the direction of such atrocities as DOOMSDAY and HELL RIDE. Kitamura at least understands rhythm.
The 'novelty' of staging a slasher in a subway train is what gives MMT the first push. The other is the inspired casting choice of having Vinnie "Mean Machine" Jones in the role of the baddie. The third is the distinctly Clive Barker-ish twist that ends the film - not exactly my cup but that's because my sensibilities are totally different from Barker's.
MMT might never quite reach its full potential story-wise, but it's fast-paced and brutal, exactly what the title promises. 7.5/10