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Book Review: The Final Cut by Jasper Bark

“Just when you’re convinced that level of depravity could not be reached again during the course of the text, Bark manages to ramp it up just a little more with horrors far more gut wrenching around the corner.”

Fans of Jasper Bark know his work is extremely fast paced and particularly gruesome. First time readers will find themselves inadequately prepared for threats of gangland torture by way of a snuff video, quickly followed by the consummate butchery of the protagonists’ captors, rounded off with a deeply philosophical speech from a taxi driver which has far reaching implications for the whole novel. And this just the first thirty or so pages of his latest effort, The Final Cut.

The Final Cut is a mixture of crime story, gory brutal murder, supernatural forces and hidden secrets of gods from thousands of years ago, manifest in modern day London. In the middle of it all are an indie horror movie making duo, Sam and Jimmy. After being threatened with some of the most gruesome torture ever described in print, the two are let off the hook as a result of their captors being savagely torn to shreds. Naturally disturbed by this sequence of events, and more so by the unnerving gradual disappearance of the remains of the victims, they leave in a hurry and decide to use the ultra-hard core torture porn in a new film of their own devising. Things take a turn for the even-more-surreal when a woman who appears to be identical in every way to one of the original torture video’s subjects arrives unannounced at the audition and demands the part of leading lady.

It is quite amazing that such a diverse combination of elements can possibly work within a single novel, but somehow it really does. Bark creates a truly believable criminal underworld, which the protagonists are clearly involved in over their heads and, at first, the reader might be forgiven for thinking that really all there is to the initial scenes of torture video, followed by slaughter. But the narrative skilfully sews in details which make you ask whether there might be something altogether more sinister going on. This gets ramped up at a furious pace throughout the story, but always in a way that one is just able to stretch the limits of belief enough to accept, right up until the end of the text and the crescendo of the book.

The violence in the text is appalling, but in the most complimentary way possible. The graphic detail of the torture described in the first scene causes a real sense of discomfort on first reading, and just when you’re convinced that level of depravity could not be reached again during the course of the text, Bark manages to ramp it up just a little more with horrors far more gut wrenching around the corner, and on one occasion, in a masturbation scene no less.

Make no mistake, The Final Cut is absolutely not a work for the fainthearted. The physical brutality and sexual content is vividly described and would demand pause for thought from the most hardened horror fan. If you enjoy stories which paint terrifying, gory images in the mind, this is certainly for you. If you can suspend your disbelief and get on board with the ancient mystical forces involved, it will appeal to anyone who enjoys a great narrative.

KEV HARRISON

Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Paperback (280 pp)
Release Date: 25 May 2016

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