PrintE-mail Written by J.D. Gillam

It’s 1985 and Lori and Roxy have gotten together to take their friend, Abby, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and help her get over the traumatic events of a year previous. Abby, stuck in an abusive relationship, killed her boyfriend and is still trying to come to terms with it. In true ‘80s horror film fashion, the girls end up at Blackwater, Louisiana, with its ubiquitous lake and dense woodland, to stay at Lori’s grandparents’ house.

Problem is, the grandparents haven’t left like they were supposed to and so the girls have to camp. Lori, along with her grandparents, is a strong believer in voodoo, and Lori foolhardily attempts to help Abby escape her demons. The only issue with this is that the lake has a nasty history and Lori’s help backfires as something nasty and potentially unstoppable is accidentally unleased to wreak havoc.

Whereas recently there has been a real drive towards mining ‘80s horror tropes for rich results, most of the creations have headed more towards a tongue in cheek route. No so here. Duza and Simmons have created something very familiar, but also brutally unique and new. All the clichés are on board: nubile young ladies, idiot jocks, local police that are so close to inept it’s silly, knowing locals who warn the main protagonists, and a killer who doesn’t hang around to ask questions and ponder their significance. But the authors have played with these clichés, toyed with them until they are just different enough for you to realise that the story isn’t going to follow the same old beaten path and fail to surprise you.

They are not afraid to literally stick the knife in and twist it just to keep you on your toes. There’s plenty of death, gore and moments to make you gasp. The pace is constant and fast; at only 253 pages, the tale is short and sharp with very little time wasted on backstory or unnecessary juxtaposition or character development. That doesn’t mean the characters are cardboard cut-outs though, as you quickly embrace them even though they are not the cleanest of people to like. Although it’s a horror story, it plants a foot firmly in realism and lets loose the bizarre as you read.

It’s the stories you know from old with a few nice, clever tweaks that keep it fresh. Duza and Simmons have created not one, but two strong potential franchise killers here.

Sit tight for the sequel. After all, there has to be a sequel, right?



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