Written by: Paul Tremblay (2018)
A family's vacation is interrupted by four strangers insisting that they sacrifice one of their own to prevent the end of the world.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
I read Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. It was probably the best depiction of possession and the potential for the misinterpretation of mental illness that I've seen in horror. I've been wanting to read this one for even longer than that one, and I recently was able to grab a copy and give it a look. If you haven't given Paul Tremblay a read yet, I highly recommend checking this one out, because it's a fascinating tale of love, loss, internal conflict and sacrifice that is even more relevant today than when it was written.
Gay couple Andrew and Eric are taking a vacation to a remote cabin in the woods with their adopted daughter Wen, enjoying the sun and the surf of the beautiful lake right outside their back door. Wen, who is capturing grasshoppers in the front yard while her dads sun out back, is interrupted by Leonard, a giant of a man who helps her with her activity while trying to gently pry information from her. After Leonard introduces his three companions, Wen and her fathers find themselves accosted by the four strangers, who demand a sacrifice to avoid a potential catastrophe upon humankind. Tremblay weaves a the story into a tapestry of religious uncertainty, internalized homophobia, and the centralized trust within a committed relationship, playing these topics against each other as Eric and Andrew do their best to keep their daughter safe from these mysterious strangers.
Tremblay continually returns to the well of Andrew's and Eric's past, using a previous assault that may or may not have been based in homophobic hate to further cloud Andrew's mind against the possibility that these events happening to his family are based in reality while also creating a sense of fear in Eric through his understanding of the Biblical stories of the end times. Andrew's areligious belief system further casts doubt on Eric's interpretation of events, driving a wedge between the couple that causes each to alienate the other in their outlook on the future. Wen is yet another wrinkle in the plan, as Eric and Andrew are forced to dedicate much of their energy to trying to protect her from this horrific circumstance. The balance of all these intricate parts of familyhood are thrown into disarray when death, destruction, and the judgment of mankind come together into a smorgasboard of pandemonium.
The book is phenomenally written, with little bits of humor sprinkled in that make the events that unfold all the more heartbreaking and devastating. The character of Wen is fucking adorable, a perfectly crafted little girl who is also an incredibly complex character in her own right. Leonard is the tortured saint, the man who is there to do a dirty job that he would otherwise never consider were he not required to do so out of necessity. He is tortured in his actions, knowing that he can never redeem himself for his sins but also being willing to sacrifice his own damnation for the salvation of the rest of humanity. The book is filled with incredibly complex character development, often told in flashback narration that gives the reader insight into people who feel about as real as characters in a horror novel can feel.
Tremblay is an outstanding author, one of the better horror authors working today. The Cabin at the End of the World is one that I would recommend to just about anyone, and unlike the movie that came out last year, it's even got a bit of gore for the people who want that included in their horror reading experience. The book's conceptual basis is fascinating, a fantastic idea that Tremblay fleshes out in a compelling and thought out way that makes the reader desperately want to get to the next page to find out where the journey for these characters ends. If you like horror and also like reading, I can't recommend this one enough.
Who this movie is for: Horror literature fans, Apocalyptic horror lovers, Celtics fans
Bottom line: The Cabin at the End of the World is fantastic, and I highly recommend it. The movie wasn't half bad either, but if you want the whole story, one that is far more complex and richly told, check out the book first. There are a few differences in plot between this and the book, and I personally liked the events of the book way better. Tremblay knows how to create characters that are as well-developed as possible, and the ones in this book are endearing, terrifying, and intriguing all at the same time. Check this one out.