Alienation, Elitism & Lived-Art in The Midnight Meat Train | Part 2

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Interspliced with Leon’s break from society and descent into the heart of the city, are numerous sequences featuring the subway killer, a man who is referred to only as Mahogany. Mahogany, unlike many contemporary horror film antagonists, is not a raving lunatic, rather, he is restrained, dutiful and immaculate, keeping to a schedule as regular as the train which he nightly frequents with horrific and bloody consequence. Also unlike many other horror movie villains, Mahogany is not driven by lust or rage or some insane fantasy, but by compulsion from his superiors, namely, the icy and nameless conductor of the eponymous train. During one scene where Mahogany struggles to kill one of the passengers on the train (one of only two times in the film he meets a foe who can match his considerable martial prowess, the other being Leon after being marked by the subterranean organisms), the conductor intercedes as Mahogany grapples with the passenger, shooting the passenger through the head, killing him and regarding Mahogany severely, “I’m very dissapointed in you, Mahogany. Clean up the mess.” It is here that we are first introduced to the conductor and also shown that our grim serial killer is not really in control, but rather, is merely a duteous, if very efficient, employee. Here is also where the first parallel between Leon and the butcher makes itself apparent. Mahogany is following orders from the conductor, just as Leon is following orders from Hoff. The principal difference is that whilst Leon’s actions are constrained by the norms and conventions of broader society, Mahogany’s actions are constrained only by the orders of the conductor and his subterranean masters. In this sense Mahogany is more “free” (less constrained by external pressures) than the protagonist, but it is difficult to say if he is better off. The question: “What cage would you rather be inside of than without,” here presents itself.

Mahogany is possessed of superhuman strength and longevity, protection from the police (who have been infiltrated by the agents of the subterraneans) and, presumably, ample funding (that or he has merely been saving up his money for a long time for those fancy suits, among other things, would require considerable upkeep). In his character one finds a certain parallel with Patrick Bateman, both smartly dressed, well-heeled and murderous corporate workers, who exist among the upper echelons of their respective societies, both vampiric egregores of a Hollywood-consumer culture that has never really existed, or rather, exists only because of those selfsame egregores. Yet he distinguishes himself from a character like Bateman via his loyalty to purpose, his sacral duty to feed the subterraneans. Though the precise arrangement between Mahogany, the other members of his order and the monsters is not detailed, it is stated (by the conductor) that the secret of the subterraneans must be kept by the ring-wearers through ritual sacrifice, implying that Mahogany and the conductor (and later Leon) are actually doing a service to the outer world by protecting them from the threat below which functions as a metaphor that there are indeed something that it were better that most people do not know and that it is the purpose of those special few who can bear the psychic trauma (Mahogany, Leon, the conductor and the police woman) of that knowing to protect them from it.


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