Video Night by Adam Cesare
I enjoy 80’s nostalgia as much as the next horror fan, but as of 2018, the throwback movement is becoming saturated, if not yet as tired as zombies.
That in mind, a trip with pop-culture references and a plot as thin as a contemporary slasher film can be a tough read. Happily, this is not overburdened with 80’s detail, and the plot moves with as much craft as action—and there’s plenty of action.
No spoilers here, but Cesare delivers the goods from page one. A creepy bodysnatching porcupine monster, lascivious teens in a rocking van—we know where this is going, right?
Not quite. Cesare teases, then elevates the monster, in particular, to make it and its familiars a well-explored, primary strength of his debut novel.
The well-worn stereotypes of jock-and-nerd, girl-next-door, absent/oblivious parents, incompetent cops, lucky Kryptonite discoveries, and grumpy older siblings all see airtime—but with these, too, Cesare refuses to color entirely within the lines.
The result is a fun, fast-moving, not entirely predictable ride that makes for an awful (yet sympathetic) villain, likable young characters, and bright spots involving a hapless sidekick and a hilarious cop paralyzed in all but his thoughts.
Recommended to anyone of any “reasonable” age, especially to those looking for a horror novel in the vein of King and company: this one slides greasily down the sharp edge of what “normal” people can get their teeth into as the pages fly.