Back in December, I had socks. But then Alex de Campi wrote Sleigh Ride, and my socks were blown away, never to return again. So when Grindhouse: Drive In, Bleed Out returned with a new story I was elated. I jumped on the opportunity to review the newest story, but was sadly and sorely disappointed. Sleigh Ride was a phenomenal story, but this is not Sleigh Ride. This is Blood Lagoon.
De Campi switches gears from her previous grim allegory on health depletion to a more comedic tale. I use the term comedic loosely as there is nothing inherently funny about the story. Think Tremors without the humor.The characters are fittingly outlandish, but they carry not exaggerated traits to make them even vaguely intriguing. Thus the reader is kept at a surface level and never has any reason to care for the characters. Since these characters have appeared before there may be some development that I am lacking, but even so some time should be dedicated to developing a character further. The story revolves around Wayne and Garcia. Wayne is heading to see his father to inform him that he will be marrying his boyfriend. This fact is never clearly stated until halfway through the book, but is apparent from the beginning. When Wayne finally tells his father about his wedding the book treats it as if it is a significant reveal, but the moment falls flat because it has been apparent this whole time. Now it's entirely possible that this moment may strike a chord with readers who have been in similar situations. I am not gay and thus have never had to face the difficulty of telling a disapproving family my marriage plans.
The art is serviceable, but nothing to be awestruck by. Chris Peterson does provide some great expressions. This often overlooked aspect speaks volumes to the nature and personality of a character and would be more powerful if the story facilitated it. The critters which arise to attack our protagonists are unfortunately not too interesting. Basic crab-like monsters that do little to appear as a threat other than their numbers. Nolan Woodard does well on colors, exploiting the setting rising sun to establish a solemn feeling. He shadows accentuates well, but some more vibrancy on the creatures could have helped me to actually care that there were so many.
After Sleigh Ride I had high hopes, but this story did not come close. While the book aims for a campy feeling it fails to reach such as there is nothing to be excited about. De Campi is an excellent writer and I have every intention of reading Grindhouse: Drive in, Bleed Out in the future, but I will skip the rest of this story. Unless you're a diehard fan of any of the creative, I would advise you do the same.