Monday, January 9, 2012
The Devil Next Door by Tim Curran
In 2005 John Hillcoat directed a Australian western named The Proposition. I went to see this movie in the theater, it's one of those movies that has to be seen on the big screen to work. It is by far the dirtiest movie I have ever seen,and by that I mean dirt - dirt. Flies buzzed on the screen, you could almost feel the sweat and grime. After the movie I felt like I needed a shower. Name any gore movie you like I still consider it to be the most visceral movie I have ever seen.
Now this novel had the same effect on me, don't even consider this book if your mind cannot handle thinking about bucket after bucket of blood,sweat,poop and general slime. There are two kinds of gruesome horror novels ones that use the viscera to season a strong story like Poppy Brite's Exquisite Corpse,Early Clive Barker or John Shirley's Cellars to name a few. The other kind of gore novel just strings together demented acts with a paper thin connection and fails to tell a story or build characters. I am glad to say Devil Next Door is more than just exploitation, well it's still exploitation, but it also tells a story and still has somewhat of moral center.
That is a tough balance to strike when you have a book filled with Murder, rape, cannibalism as Civilization crashes down into wild insanity. It's the story of a man named Louis who is one of only a handful of people in a small fictional Indiana town named Greenlawn. over a long day the people in the town begin to lose their minds, one violent act after another builds until the whole town, and every where beyond turns towards wide spread brutality.
The story is not that original I mean my first thought was Romero's The Crazies, I have heard comparisons to Simon Clark's Blood Crazy(which I have not read yet) but really I enjoyed the story telling enough that I just rode with it. Curran does an excellent job building characters, even the secondary ones pop to life quickly. The thing that creates this madness is interesting and creates a subtle environmental message. Once things starting to hell it gets super,duper bad.
At that point the madness is on, every base lust, desire, or emotion gets free reign. To me the finest and most creepy moment in the novel came when the main characters called 9/11 to get help. Someone answers, but all they hear at first is breathing. It was such a great moment of expressing the terror at losing something we consider a safety net of society. Just Brilliant.
Was it a perfect novel? No, but I now am sold on the author and want to read more of his stuff. There were minor plot holes(nothing I couldn't over look) and I am pretty sure human's stripped of civilization might not act that awful. Then again the true horror of this novel trying to survive in a world where Civilization is torn from us. If it happened like that insanity is just the beginning. Can't miss for fans of end of the world novels or extreme horror.