When I was first offered the chance to review Reel Horror, I didn’t know what to make of it. It was by far the longest ebook I had ever attempted to read, although at 180 pages and not exactly a dense word count per page, it wasn’t exactly a feature length novel either. Following an unlikable character through this cheesy, implausible story did not sound very appealing to me, yet once the story started, I found myself drawn in, standing beside these characters and having a stake in the outcome as what I’d come to expect from the medium was challenged.
Those who have read the story are hopefully seeing what I’ve done there and laughing their ass off, which is good, because that means the dramatization of above events were worth it. I truly didn’t know what the hell to do with this book when I found out it was an ebook, though. It’s just never been a genre that appealed to me, and the short length of the novella was probably as important a part in my going forward with it as my upgrading to an Android phone.
Reel Horror is a horror B-movie in ebook form, in more ways than one. It reads like a screenplay, which means that instead of getting deep thoughts and frightening descriptions, we get matter-of-fact descriptions of often impossible things. Of course, this also comes with overly emphasized actions that bring the story farther across the line between movie in prose form and screenplay. Of course, the writing follows most of the rules of prose fiction, but it has just enough screenplay elements to translate in your mind as a movie.
I wasn't lying when I said that I found Rich to be unlikable. It's not that I found him to be unbearable- most readers have a friend like him- it's that he has just enough traits I don't like in a person and just few enough things in common with me that we wouldn't have any reason to be interested in one another, save through his girlfriend, Sandra, who I wish had more screen time. Page time. In any case, I hope she gets both, should there be a sequel.
The third character is probably the least "horror movie" of the novella. That is because Shane, despite being an obnoxious character with an interest in adult entertainment (not in that way, you pervs), is not killed. This isn't much of a spoiler, considering that Shane’s not exactly put in what you would call “danger” during the story.
Even with Shane, though, you get a bit more depth than a story that fits what I’ve described might be expected to portray. This is a story with love. It could be called self-congratulatory (This genre we like is so clever and we’re so smart for getting it!) but I don’t really see it as being any more so than the posts that many fandoms would do on Facebook: This is why we like this awesome thing.
In the end, the simplest way to describe this is also the simplest way to recommend it. This is a horror B-movie (PG-13, yes) written in novella form, with traces of screenplay. It’s clearly an independent work (some of the inconsistencies in formatting bug me, and a bit more of a budget would have been quick to get rid of such things), but that doesn’t hurt the story much at all, especially at this length and in this style. I’d like to see it as part of some larger horror anthology, the formatting tidied up a bit and placed alongside a few stories by the likes of Stephen King and Mira Grant. That’s not to say that Reel Horror is in the same league (or even tries to be) as those other authors, but still, a good horror anthology with a theme that drew such different styles together would be worth my money.