Night Shoot's past-tense, third-person narrative (you have to be specific these days) features Elspeth Murray as the protagonist. In the book's early introduction, readers learn that Elspeth is in her fourth year of film school to become a professional set designer. She lives with her girlfriend Sandy and the two seem to be reaching a milestone in their relationship.
Elspeth's class has paired her up with a small crew of classmates that must complete a film as their final exam. The group is mostly misfits that are working on a low-budget horror movie called The Haunting of Lacey Carmichael. While some of the film has been shot at the school, the director has called in a family favor to his father to use an estranged uncle's cavernous manor house to shoot the majority of the film. There's a lot more to it, but giving anything else away is giving you the steak before the sizzle.
The rule is that the film crew has to get in and out of the house in one day, allowing just a few hours of shooting time before the rigid 8PM deadline to get the Hell out. This rule is important to the owner of the place, a stuffy old fart that doesn't appreciate the tedious task of having young snot-nosed kids ruining the woodwork. As the film crew sets up in the giant mansion, a hideous “something” is in the attic watching and waiting.
In a fast-paced 80s slasher style, each of the film crew is knocked off in heinous fashion. It follows the beloved formula of ticking off the characters until the final girl is left alone in the house with the “something”. I was getting some serious Linda Blair vibes from the VHS classic Hell Night (1981), but also shades of the flick Curtains (1983) and the lost gem The House That Vanished (1973). Setting is always important for these stories and the use of an enormous manor house nestled on a cliff overlooking the North Sea was pretty spectacular. Kudos to the author for using every square foot of the house's interior, with chase scenes spilling into offices, hallways, attics, bedrooms, rooftops, and closets.
Night Shoot is a 230-page horror novel for the casual mop-headed rental-store veterans out there. I love a good 70s and 80s romp where the actress evades the masked man through campgrounds, houses (big or small), malls, schools, barns, and mines. If you love that stuff, then Night Shoot is a popcorn classic. I can't wait to read more of this author.
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