I'm not going to lie. As a child of the '80s and a fan of Adam Cesare, I was expecting a bit more from this one as on paper, it looks like a definite winner. Mixing in liberal doses of Richard Laymon's Flesh with elements from films like Fred Dekker's Night of the Creeps, James Gunn's Slither and John Carpenter's They Live, this one tells the tale of a couple of horror loving buds and the girls they're into having to survive their video night when it is gate-crashed by aliens taking over humans from the inside out.
With apologies to Edgard Wright and Simon Pegg, Fried Gold! I thought to myself.
And yet ... something about this never quite gelled for me. Perhaps it was that we spend a good proportion of the novel following the aliens around, and though this served the purpose of explaining what was actually going on, I never warmed to these characters in a "I love to hate them" kind of way. Or maybe it was that the rules of what was taking place seemed to be a little fluid. For example, why was one person infected and another not when they did what seemed to be the exact same thing? Then again, it could have been that there was a great deal of set-up, only for the climax to be over very quickly.
Not that this is a bad novel at all. Though you've likely read or seen most of this story before, Cesare again displays a deft hand with his creature design. He also entertainingly pours on the gore rather than leave such events to take place off the page. And the central relationship between his two horror film buffs is fun and feels authentic in an odd couple kind of way. So I can still recommend Video Night to horror fans who, like me, might be a little more seasoned; who might have grown up enjoying horror video nights of their own in the '80s and liking to freak themselves out on such nights, even if just a little.
3 Voices in the Back of Your Mind for Video Night.