The Most Anticipated Horror Book of the Summer: Horror Movie

It is rare that I come across a book that surpasses all others. A diamond in the rough, so to speak. Of the hundreds of books I peruse each year, I may come across one, maybe two books, each year that sit with me long after I’ve turned that last page. These are the books I take my time with. I don’t rush through them over the course of one or two days. I take over a month to read that book. It’s because I know I need to truly absorb the story.

Michelle Kenneth with Paul Tremblay. 03.03.2024

Back on March 3, 2024, I met Paul Tremblay at Barnes & Noble in Union Square. He signed a couple of copies of The Cabin at the End of the World for me. Personally, I thought Paul was a really cool guy. Someone I could see myself being really good friends with. It was the same vibe I felt with Edwin Walker and the fashion designer Malan Breton when we met (and yes, we’re still good friends).

There is a reason why I am starting this post this way. It may help you to understand just how special this book is, because in my world, when the universe gets involved, that means something very important is happening. Meeting Tremblay was the starting point.

As we talked about the horror movie Knock at the Cabin, starring David Bautista, which was based upon The Cabin at the End of the World, his publisher asked if I’d like a copy of his next release, Horror Movie. She warned me not to sell it. I mean come on, he signed it. This one is not leaving my curated collection. Especially, since I know every single horror book fan wants this signed ARC. I am never letting this one out of my library. Not even for someone to borrow it. I’d rather buy them a copy than to let them even touch this copy. [A side note to readers, that means there will be a future Instagram giveaway of a signed first edition of Horror Movie.]

When I left the store, I snapped a couple of pictures of the book and posted them on Instagram, to which the Horror community instantly became envious and hated me at the same time. Sigh. You just had to have been there.

As the weeks progressed, Saga Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) sent me a copy of My Heart is a Chainsaw and then Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones. Now, I mention these two books for a reason. It’s important for you to pick up the Indian Lake trilogy by Jones in order to completely understand Horror Movie. The trilogy and this book go hand in hand.

Stephen Graham Jones speaking at the New York Public Library. 04.29.2024.

Of course, at the time, I did not know this. I made the connection when I finished Horror Movie and read in the acknowledgements that Tremblay thanked Jones for the idea. That’s when Horror Movie and the trilogy clicked. But of course, I never would have made this connection at all if the universe hadn’t had Saga Press drop the trilogy into my mailbox and I ended up reading the books simultaneously with Horror Movie.

More importantly, while My Heart is a Chainsaw is the main book that is linked to Horror Movie, it’s Don’t Fear the Reaper that was on repeat in my universe. I could not figure out why that was until I read the acknowledgments. In the acknowledgments, Jones writes, “You know those moments when your world is kind of crackling all around you like crumpled paper unfolding, so you can finally read what’s on that page, what you didn’t even know was there hiding, had been written all along? This is that, for me. It’s my life going this direction, not that direction.”

While you may brush off these connections so far, I’m not done. After I posted Don’t Fear the Reaper as the week’s The Next Seven on Instagram (a weekly Wednesday post that features the next seven books I am reviewing), I saw Jones posted on his Instagram that he would be at the New York Public Library (more particularly, my NYPL branch) the following Monday. Seeing that as a strange sign from the universe, I go.

Of course, by this point, noticing that Don’t Fear the Reaper was on repeat in my universe (all the way down to some spiritual thing that happened that I’m not going to get into, I just know that someone else witnessed what I witnessed and was so freaked out, they followed me to safety), I still had not picked up that Tremblay and Jones were connected.

I was carrying these two books around with me, reading a chapter of Horror Movie, and then switching to Reaper, without ever knowing there was a connection. That is, I didn’t discover it until I read the acknowledgments in Horror Movie and did a WTF.

I carried these two books around with me, not knowing the authors and the books were connected.

It is strange, though, how all of this kind of fell into place in my world. First, meeting Tremblay and receiving Horror Movie, Saga Press sending the first two books in the Indian Lake trilogy, meeting Jones, then receiving the final installment of the trilogy. Then I discover the two authors and their stories are linked. As a book influencer, I can tell you, of all the books I’ve reviewed over the last decade, none of them have shown up the way that these four books did and the universe announced a connection (one for me to figure out). I’ve never unknowingly read books simultaneously together without knowing they were connected. As a writer, though, I understand the connection. It’s right there in Jones’s acknowledgements. It’s right there on the page.

So as you read this review, you may pick up on the tie-in that ultimately links Horror Movie with the trilogy (if you’ve read all the books). I recommend reading the trilogy alongside Horror Movie in order to completely get the WHOA factor while reading all four books. It will help you to appreciate them at a much deeper level.

All of these books are listed in the and Amazon Bookshop in the Shop menu above.

The Review: “Horror Movie” by Paul Tremblay

I wanted to mull this one over before I did a review because my brain needed to be OK with what I just read. Please note this is a five-star rating for me.

It’s several days later, and I’m still thinking about this book. The screenplay. The filming. The reboot. The OMG did that just happen at the end?

There are layers to the way this story is told. There is the present day. They want to remake Horror Movie, a low-budget film that never saw the light of day until the director decided to release clips of it on YouTube before she died. There’s the screenplay, written in a way that we can understand what made this into a horror movie, keeping the Thin Kid (our narrator) out of the loop. There is foreshadowing of what is to come.

This is where I want to say if suicide is triggering for you, there are elements of this in the book. You have been warned. Mind you, that is a trigger for me. That is the main reason why I needed to sit a little while longer with my thoughts on this book before doing a review because maybe that was the part that scared me the most. Yet, I believe that the way Tremblay approached this topic was as gentle as he possibly could. It’s like he’s saying it’s time for this to happen. It will be ok. You’ll be ok. Everyone will be ok. And also not ok. It’s like looking back at a moment that has haunted you and will forever haunt you, and learning to be ok. To see the monster of death and not fear the reaper.

There are also flashbacks to fill in the gaps of how the Thin Kid was approached to make the film, what happened during filming, and what happened afterward.

There’s method acting, and then there’s Thin Kid. I don’t think I’ll ever look at a method actor the same way again. I will always be thinking about the Thin Kid and what he took with him after the film. What he became. Do all method actors leave the character behind, or does the character become a part of the actor after the movie?

As I write this, sitting outside on a lounge chair, enjoying the spring Manhattan weather, I have a copy of Stephen Graham Jones’s Don’t Fear the Reaper on my lap. Paul Tremblay thanked SGJ for the idea of Horror Movie. SGJ mentioned to Tremblay that he should watch something about chainsaws on YouTube. That took Tremblay down a very dark rabbit hole where Horror Movie was birthed. If you’ve read My Heart is a Chainsaw, the first book in the Jade Daniels trilogy, you’ll understand the horror movie and chainsaw reference in this book. SGJ is the inspiration for Horror Movie.

I can see a Paul Tremblay and Stephen Graham Jones horror writing and film class in some university’s curriculum in the future. You sort of need to read both of their works simultaneously to completely understand their stories and where the references are being derived from.

I will admit that the screenplay in this book kept my brow furrowed throughout. I kept thinking, what are you doing? Where are you going with this? Not in an accusatory way to the author, but in an ‘I know this is where you’re going to scare me.’

The entire time, I am trying to protect myself for what is to come. The hand in the pocket. The uncaring step towards death. What are you warning me of? It’s like my brain knew what he was going to do. That’s why I didn’t speed through this book in a day. I sensed the trigger. I took my time. Stuck other books in between the next chapter and the next to ease the moment when it happens.

Then, finally, it happens. I’m stuck there in my head, but I keep reading. And then the end. OMG. THAT. JUST. HAPPENED.

To which, days later, I remember there was a suicide in the book. But I’m still at the end saying, OMG, THAT JUST HAPPENED.

After you read the book, this caption will make sense.