Desperate students take desperate measures to finish their film project before their time is up, a rare opportunity to shoot in Crawford Manor impossible to ignore. Sneaking their way in to the maze-like halls, they attempt an overnight stay to soak up the atmosphere and hopefully make significant progress, yet the secrets of the manor begin to stir in the dark. Losing their lead actress is the least of their problems when hideous figures make themselves known, survival soon becoming the priority.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank David Sodergren for giving me the opportunity.
I knew I was going to have fun with Night Shoot even before starting it, fond memories of my last Sodergren read likely having something to do with it. There’s a standard that he excels as he implements his passion for cinema, more specifically the era of the classic 80’s slasher. With an engaging start, the plot followed aspiring filmmakers as they attempted a night shoot on location, events obviously not quite going to plan. Even before the graphic violence commenced, I was hooked with the crew’s antics and their laughably bad attempts at producing a masterpiece; entertainment at its finest, it offered some chuckles. Once things got out of hand it certainly included all the gore-tastic moments one could hope for – cannibalism always a plus in my books – along with unsympathetic characters that deserved everything they got. I could easily imagine each scene running like a movie, partnered by some foreboding and likely frenetic score as the death count increased in new and grisly ways. Being relentless in its pacing, it wasn’t long before all was said and done, making it relatively quick and this worked in its favour.
While being very much a character to root for, Elspeth was surrounded by exaggerated and despicable personalities that ticked all the typical boxes of being sex-crazed and unapologetic about it. Sometimes this cliché of over-sexualisation and single-minded men can work for me, other times not, I’ve been outspoken about it in the past. I get that it’s an accurate depiction of the genre in all its misogynistic glory, but I find in some instances it can come across as too forced and serve the opposite effect of complementing the story. However, and I’m happy to admit, with Sodergren it doesn’t get old; I love to hate the personalities he creates. I’ve stated before and I’ll do so again: his way of storytelling – with boobs and gore galore – is unquestionably comfortable with itself. He’s not afraid to dip into the perverted and the disgusting while also building up a strong female figure that has a mind of her own, and whose relationship was a breath of fresh air. I really rooted for Elspeth throughout, and I wanted her to escape the nightmare with her body parts intact.
The ending was one to ponder over, and for most it’d likely be an outcome to love or hate. Honestly, I found it to be tragic, and I wished for more pages even though there were none. I can’t say I was a hundred percent satisfied, but I didn’t dislike its unpredictability; I didn’t see it coming, and that’s always a treat. Sodergren kept throwing nastiness right up until the very last word, when he went straight for the emotional punch in the gut – by then, all the laughs had died, and I was left saddened.
In conclusion: Night Shoot was an old fashioned slasher that featured a cast of university students that decided it was a good idea to have an overnight filming session in a creepy manor – sounds fun, right? That’s because it was, with the usual tropes and, of course, a lot of killing. I was able to attach myself to the protagonist of Elspeth while being submerged in the atmosphere of Crawford Manor, its horrific secrets catering to my tastes – brutal and depraved. The monsters were delightful, the snippets of their background pretty messed up in the best way.
Death was always more shocking and also, somehow, more pitiful in real life. The way the human body was exposed as a useless sack of meat, the way people reacted not with stoicism and bravery, but with the dread realisation that their life was over.
© Red Lace 2020