Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Publication Date: 27th May 2016
REVIEWED BY CHAD
A copy of The Final Cut by Jasper Bark was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, Crystal Lake Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.
The Final Cut is a dark and twisted journey through the imaginings of the talented Jasper Bark. Every once in a while, you get a book that has the ability to take you within the folds of the dust jacket and like a Chinese finger puzzle will not let you go until you give in and realize that you have to let it happen.
The book is about a pair of indie film makers (Jimmy and Sam) who have gotten themselves into a bit of a financial dead end.
After borrowing money from the wrong person and making some poor choices with that money, they find themselves at the mercy of their one-time benefactor. As a way of demonstrating to them what could happen if he doesn’t get his money, the loan shark shows them a snuff film he has recently acquired, suggesting that the same could happen to them if they don’t provide the payment he expects.
Before the film ends however, an unknown party descends down on the room and kills everyone present, save for Jimmy and Sam. Realizing they have survived, the two decide to take the tape and use it somehow to create a sort of hybrid found-footage film. Their production gets off to a bizarre start right out of the gate as a mysterious actress shows up to audition for the film. She is perfect for the part but she has some unusual demands of her own, and her behavior is nothing short of eccentric as well.
The story progresses from here into an incredibly creative narrative that is woven expertly and executed at a very high level of craft. The imagery in the book is vivid, often chilling, signs of a deep and expansive imagination that I felt privileged to take part in.
I wanted to take a moment and discuss the contents of the book in terms of how palatable they are going to be for the average reader. This isn’t a book that is going to be for everyone but I also think it’s important to draw a distinction, that the mere existence of graphic violence isn’t automatically or inherently wrong. There are scenes in the book that are pretty graphic but there was no point where I felt that Bark was throwing in gore just for the sake of being graphic. It’s easy to dismiss certain work because it might hover near a perceived line in terms of what’s acceptable. This is going to be ideal for those willing to challenge themselves, to put that part of their brain into silent mode and just take in the emotional impact of what is unfolding in front of you. The graphic violence in the book feels like it is there to serve a purpose and I don’t think I could really imagine the book without it.
As I made my way through, I thought I had a sense of where things were going but I am glad to say that I was completely wrong. The book brings together brilliant elements of suspense, horror and supernatural elements that are presented in an amazing fashion. As with reading any author for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this but once I got into it, I was very happy that I took the chance on this one.
I thought this book was a really smart exploration of how easily obsessions can be formed inside of a person and how one’s own well-being can take a back seat to the object of that desire. The book moves back and forth between Jimmy and Sam’s perspectives and I think this serves as a powerful aid to the story. It’s fascinating to see how differently they react to the situation that develops and how the snuff film ultimately affects the both of them. Bark presents a clear and powerful plot, through the medium of these two characters.
For me, horror fiction isn’t always about just scaring the reader, it’s about putting them inside of the visceral experience of the book. I think this is what takes horror fiction off of the page and elevates to something even better.
To say the least, this book comes highly recommended.
Reviewed by Chad Clark.
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Some stories capture the imagination; others will be the death of you.
The Final Cut is a genre busting mash up of crime, horror and urban fantasy. An imaginative and thought provoking tale that explores our need to watch and make horror fiction, examining not just the medium, but the purpose of storytelling itself. Taking in everything from ancient myth, to modern atrocity, this novel will entrance, mystify and appall you in equal measures, haunting you long after you’ve reached the very last line.
In an East London lock up, two film makers, Jimmy and Sam, are duct taped to chairs and forced to watch a snuff film by Ashkan, a loan shark to whom they owe a lot of money. If they don’t pay up, they’ll be starring in the next one. Before the film reaches its end, Ashkan and all his men are slaughtered by unknown assailants. Only Jimmy and Sam survive the massacre, leaving them with the sole copy of the snuff film.
The film makers decide to build their next movie around the brutal film. While auditioning actors, they stumble upon Melissa, an enigmatic actress who seems perfect for the leading role, not least because she’s the spitting image of the snuff film’s main victim. Neither the film, nor Melissa, are entirely what they seem however. Jimmy and Sam find themselves pulled into a paranormal mystery that leads them through the shadowy streets of the city beneath the city and sees them re-enacting an ancient Mesopotamian myth cycle. As they play out the roles of long forgotten gods and goddesses, they’re drawn into the subtle web of a deadly heresy that stretches from the beginnings of civilization to the end of the world as we know it.
Jasper Bark is infectious - and there’s no known cure. If you’re reading this then you’re already at risk of contamination. The symptoms will begin to manifest any moment now. There’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no itching or unfortunate rashes, but you’ll become obsessed with his books, from the award winning collections 'Dead Air' and 'Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts', to cult novels like 'The Final Cut' and acclaimed graphic novels such as 'Bloodfellas' and 'Beyond Lovecraft'.
Soon you’ll want to tweet, post and blog about his work until thousands of others fall under its viral spell. We’re afraid there’s no way to avoid this, these words contain a power you are hopeless to resist. You’re already in their thrall and have been since you began reading this bio. Even now you find yourself itching to read the whole of his work. Don’t fight it, embrace the urge and wear your obsession with pride!
And for more about Jasper, visit his site or find him on social media: