How do you define horror? What is the difference between a horror story and a thriller? Those are the questions I needed to ask for this review. There is a fine line between the two, and To Watch You Bleed by Jordon Greene.
The tone of the story is set in the opening chapter with a car crash involving two young boys caused by their drunken and abusive father. The dad dies on impact, while the youngest boy holds on long enough for the driver of the other car to come and check on them. Once the older boy mentions that their father died, the other driver runs away, ignoring all cries for help. Flash forward to Halloween three years later, and we find a family of four getting ready for their coming day. The oldest daughter, Mara, is upset with her parents because it is the final Halloween party of her senior year, and she is grounded while her younger brother, Aiden, is allowed to go. Lenore, their mother, is anything but looking forward to greeting trick or treaters that night. Her husband, Dalton, promises to, but later backs out of it, claiming to be working late on a new client project. As night arrives, Aiden goes off to the party, where the girl he is in love with waits for him. Mara locks herself in the bedroom, where she waits for her boyfriend in a barely there negligee. Dalton blows his wife off, even rejecting her phone calls, to spend the night celebrating with his buxom secretary. Lenore is alone when three kids arrive with evil intentions.
The three masked boys hold Lenore and Mara hostage while they wait for Dalton to arrive home. Their true intentions for the family become horrifyingly clear when they stab Mara’s boyfriend in the neck and leave him to bleed out while their target races home. After Dalton arrives, they kill the boyfriend anyway by sawing deep into his throat with a sharp hunting knife. Dalton is forced to watch at gunpoint as his wife and daughter are violated and tortured. Things only get worse as the night wears on, more blood is spilled, and the bodies begin to pile up.
This was a difficult story for me to read, mostly because I’m not that big of a torture story fan. While the blood and gore was fitting to a point, it was hard to stay motivated at times to continue reading because of how unjust the story felt. It seems like the more sympathy you felt for a character, the better the chance they died in a very horrifying way. The information from the first chapter made it pretty simple to figure out who the three boys were there for, and who one of them was. It seemed to take forever for Dalton to figure out who the leader wanted to hurt, and he only did so when the boy spelled it out for him. The story did have a good rhythm throughout, and that was one of the reasons I stuck with the story. I feel the story qualifies as a horror story because of how the amount of terror the characters, and by extension the reader, feels as the story unfolds. There are points when you think characters might make it, only for the rug to be pulled out from under them.
Overall, the story is a good one to read, but if you are not a fan of torture style stories and movies, then you might not feel the same way. If those are your cup of tea, then To Watch You Bleed is for you.
Until next time, Addicts…