I recently read (and absolutely bloody loved) David Sodergren’s novel, The Forgotten Island. It had excitement, likeable characters, hideous monsters, and plenty of gore-splattered icky moments.
It was a no-brainer that I’d soon read his next opus with high expectations.
Did I worry that this one wouldn’t live up to the hype? Maybe, but surely The Forgotten Island couldn’t have been a one-off? Erm, it wasn’t.
In Night Shoot, a group of student film makers have somehow managed to acquire the use of a creepy mansion to shoot their crappy horror film. Robert, the dick of a director, was lucky enough that his uncle lived there and allowed them the freedom of the manor for one day only. There’s just one rule; be out by 8 o’clock sharp.
But when you have a director who treats his cast and crew like shit, as well as a poor script, you’re unlikely to get everything done in a day. I don’t know much about shooting a film, but I know that.
Robert’s uncle is quite the grumpy pants. He shows absolute disdain for his nephew and ‘friends’. Robert asks whether they can come back the next day or stay longer. But the answer is a resounding ‘no.’
His uncle leaves the manor every night for some strange reason, but one we eventually find out. So what does an empty old manor and recording equipment equal? A Night Shoot, baby!
You’d have thought a film crew shooting a horror movie would know better than to sneak into the place at night. And sure enough, they regret the decision very soon afterwards.
The dread that builds is captured perfectly. There seems something ‘off’ about the manor straight away, although nothing is stated as such. But you just know things are going to turn out horrific.
At around 25% in, nothing full-on horror had occurred. I remember thinking at this point that if this was simply a novel about some students making a film, I would have enjoyed it just as much. The characters were engaging, even the idiot ones, and our main protagonist, Elspeth, was a joy to read. She didn’t want to be there and was getting increasingly frustrated with everyone’s behaviour.
The thing is, she really needed that grade that this film would hopefully give her. So she pushes her grievances aside and just gets on with it.
You can probably guess what goes down; deaths. Lots of deaths. And that’s not a spoiler, this is horror! But it’s the unknown identity of the ‘thing’ in the manor that really unnerves. As the plot progresses we find out more, but the first few deaths are all the more creepy and shocking for the lack of knowledge.
As in The Forgotten Island, this story seems to have found its natural conclusion towards the end. But then things go nasty, and quick. You’ll be screaming “Nooooooo” at the pages, but of course, that would be pointless.
This novel was perhaps not as superbly excellent as its predecessor, but it had a pretty high standard to live up to. It’s still amazing, though. I would recommend this to any fan of horror, especially those with a penchant to slasher movies.
My only gripe, and it’s a tiny one, would be that Robert seems to love horror movies and is well educated in film. So why is this and his previous film so bad? Perhaps for the same reason a food critic isn’t a chef, I suppose. OK, I may have answered my own question there.
Anyway, you need to pick this up. And pick up The Forgotten Island while you’re there (I think I might have mentioned I enjoyed that one, too).
I am excited to see what David Sodergren comes up with next, because I’m sure it’s going to brutal!
Categories: book review