Last days by Adam Nevill is easily one of the best modern day horror novels I’ve read this year. This story will suck you in, devour your feelings of safety and comfort as you sit reading and nonchalantly spit you out with a wry evil grin, leaving you begging for more.
I haven’t been gripped this tightly since the one occasion I was thrown out of a pub as a young man. Last Days will scare you shitless as Nevill pumps up the tension and terror in a clinical fashion that starts off shredding your nerves to confetti and never lets you recover.
Kyle Freeman is an independent film maker, his films include a canny cross into another of his stories The Ritual, Kyle is beset with financial strife when a job offer lands rather neatly on his table. Wealthy businessman Max Solomon approaches him to make a documentary about Sister Katherine and her cult the Temple of the Last Days. The cult met an infamous and bloody end in the desert of Arizona. Kyle, with Dan the cameraman have a strict predetermined itinerary of interviews with former members of the cult and arranged visitation to the Temples of the Last Days.
The emphasis of the film was to be on the paranormal aspect of the cult as dictated by the boss and the whole makeup of the Last Days was extremely sinister and riveting. Your average Cult usually has a charismatic leader, and ex-prostitute sister Katherine certainly fits the bill. She ran things through seven intermediaries, highly manipulative, she lived in comfort while everyone else lived in squalor. Using favouritism and attachment to keep everyone in line, even from afar, choosing which relationships could prosper, all for a reason of course.
The two filmmakers have 3 sites to visit, 3 people to interview, the first is Clarendon Road, London and the cult’s birth. The whole process and setup of the film felt real and certainly intensified the paranormal element, the first site bought terror to not just Kyle and Dan but damn, you can feel it all, your pulse races it’s that well described. That however pales in comparison to the farmhouse in France, traps still in the long grass, used to stop the cult members fleeing and bodily apparitions blended into the walls. The bed of the cult leader still in place and something else, not a soul has been here since the cult vanished all those years ago and what they bought into this world, the ‘old friends’. Absolutely chilling.
The characters are both believable and well fleshed out, not so much depth but to be honest I really didn’t feel it was necessary. The story is sensational, horror at its most terrifying, we jump through repeated loops of disturbing incidents from the interviews to the site explorations and the overwhelming fear that something is there. Something unthinkable and it slowly bleeds into the filmmakers lives until there’s practically no escape.
The pacing is spot on, even the slight lull in proceedings as we explore the history of the paranormal aspect, the ‘old friends’, was absolutely fascinating. Intrigue and tension intensify almost immediately from the first interview, the history of the cult comes from both the old members and courtesy of the research already done as death starts to follow proceedings, and something it seems has awakened. I can honestly say that I hung on every word and would definitely put this down for a reread sometime in the future.
Words by Paul Nelson