(Editor’s note: DOUBLE FEATURE is a column where I read at least two horror books per month in 2020 and review them for my website.)
Witching Hour Theatre
Witching Hour Theatre is the 2016 re-release of the first published tale by acclaimed horror writer Jonathan Janz. An atmospheric, immersive slice of intense throwback horror, Witching Hour Theatre sits you down inside a dark theater during a triple feature and dares you to stay the night. The weekly Friday night horror film event is the highlight of the main character Larry Wilson’s life. Except for this time, Larry scores a date with pretty concession stand worker Nichole before entering the theater alone. Janz effectively sets the mood, detailing cinephile Larry’s observations and reactions to the other people in the theater and to the three films. As the October night progresses, attendance dwindles, but Larry is unnerved by one shadowy figure watching silently from the back. During the final film, Janz ramps up the terror, thrusting Larry into a battle for his life. Witching Hour Theatre is the perfect love letter for horror fans who appreciate the thrill of watching scary movies in the dark.
“He did not know their names, only that their severed limbs would not stop moving.” How’s that for a first line? Released in 2018, Closing Costs opens with a mysterious but gory first chapter about a man distraught over his failed attempts at an incantation. The story then shifts to Hershel Merkley, an Indiana realtor prepping to sell the Whitecomb mansion to a music producer. A successful showing means Hershel can take his wife on the dream honeymoon they never had. The only problem is the mansion has a murderous past that could tank the sale. Closing Costs briefly cuts to another storyline about a young girl in the hospital with leukemia, deepening the mystery. However, this is Hershel’s story. The affable realtor is a loving husband and a likable lead. The action starts rolling when Hershel gives the music producer and his model/wife a tour of the mansion. Splatterpunk Award-nominated author Wesley Southard injects a couple of surprising twists along the way and conjures an Evil Dead vibe during the frantic scenes of the climax. From that killer opening line to the surprisingly emotional ending, Closing Costs is worth the price.
June’s DOUBLE FEATURE: Quilt by Dan Padavona and Reception by Kenzie Jennings.