Final Cuts

BOOK REVIEW: Ellen Datlow’s ‘Final Cuts’ is a Chilling Cinematic Anthology

Waylon JordanBook ReviewLeave a Comment

Final Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles, a Blumhouse Books original, hit bookshelves last month, and honestly I’m a little sad it took me so long to get to it.

The anthology, edited by Ellen Datlow, is an engaging, often terrifying, collection of 18 stories built around movies in their many guises. From the anthology’s official description:

Final Cuts explores the surreal, the uncanny, and the dark hidden behind, in front of, and even within the silver screen: accident-prone rehearsals, spectral performances, home movies made for one person to view, snuff films, the worldwide phenomenon of livestreaming everything, and even movies made to open our world to terrifying, inexplicable creatures. Some of these stories examine the forbidden arcana and artifacts of movie lore; some create bone-chilling new ones.”

That is just about as succinctly as one could describe this collection. The stories are as varied as their authors, many of whose names horror fans will recognize, but what is quite uncanny is that no story in this collection feels out of place nor does the storytelling feel uneven.

Don’t get me wrong. Some hit much harder than others, but unlike some anthologies, each story feels as though it builds upon the last almost seamlessly. Honestly, this is unsurprising as Datlow has had an extensive career editing collections like Final Cuts.

I’m not a reviewer who takes time to talk about each individual story in a collection, but I do feel like there are a couple that fairly demand discussion.

First up is A.C. Wise’s “Exhalation #10” which tells the story of Henry, a young man with an exceptional gift that is also a curse. His hearing is so acute that he can tune into things that other cannot. His friend Paul, a former fellow film-school student turned police officer, sends Henry a MiniDV tape of a woman being murdered and asks for his help and they’re soon drawn into a terrifying mystery on the trail of a killer who likes to film his work.

Wise’s characters are so real that you’d almost swear they were sitting in the room with you relating their stories, and her talent for describing the intensity of Henry’s gift will almost have you covering your ears while reading.

Then there is Laird Barron’s “The One We Tell Bad Children,” a dark fairy tale filled with names you know in unexpected places. Barron carefully crafts a story that will keep you turning pages as he slowly coaxes you into his terrifying landscape. I love when I cannot tell which direction a story will take next and the author did not disappoint.

These are just two examples of the fine collection Datlow has assembled, and believe me when I say there is something here for everyone. It’s a perfect summer read and one that I cannot recommend enough.

You can pick up a copy of Final Cuts by CLICKING HERE.

New Pre-Orders Available! Click below: “ihorror“

Waylon Jordan is a lifelong fan of genre fiction and film especially those with a supernatural element. He firmly believes that horror reflects collective fears of society and can be used as a tool for social change.