ROOM 415 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, August 27, 2007
One of the things that truly makes the horror genre unique is the number of dedicated small and specialty publishers producing unique titles. Necro Publications is one of my favorite specialty horror publishers and one of their latest releases is Edward Lee’s “Room 415”. The book has been released in two editions…a softcover chapbook, signed and numbered and limited to 400 copies, and a hardcover edition limited to 50 copies, also signed and numbered. The chapbook is a mere 74 pages and you should be through it in less than an hour.
Jack Flood is sales director for a very successful, hi-tech company in Seattle who is attending a tradeshow in Florida. One evening, he chances a glance out his window to another room to see a beautiful woman having sex. Listening intently, Jack soon deduces that the woman is a prostitute and the men are her pimp Leon, and his muscleman, Oscar. Seems the woman was holding out some cash on Leon and Flood watches as Oscar beats her severely. Jack knows he should call the cops but is mesmerized by what he sees…no, not mesmerized, but rather Jack is sickened by the fact that he’s aroused by what he has seen. Seems Jack has been having problems performing that even Viagra cannot cure.
Jack soon meets the beautiful Carol and discovers that she is another one of Leon’s ‘tour guides’ but Jack immediately falls for her. Yet again Jack witnesses Leon and Oscar give another one of their girls a savage beating, even worse that the first time and again Jack finds himself turned on despite the viciousness of the beating. He overhears Leon and Oscar planning to kill another one of the girls who was working for a rival…the same Carol he’s fallen for.
Now I have to say that I was, at first, completely repulsed by Room 415. I don’t find the brutalizing of women the least bit entertaining. And as a warning, Lee describes these scenes in very vivid and revolting detail. I’ve never been as disturbed by a book as I was with this one. Yet, as the immediate effects of the book wore off I began to take a deeper look at Lee’s story. The story isn’t about pimps and prostitutes and beatings, it’s about the sickening human condition of what we perceive to be normal society. Who is the real fiend here…the pimp who beats the woman, or the voyeur who is turned on by the whole affair?
Flood is the upstanding, successful businessman and yet underneath the veneer is a true deviant. Leon and Oscar make no pretense about who or what they are, but rather it is Flood putting on the mask of the ordinary. Lee is taking a not so subtle shot at those in our society who we look up to as leaders but who regularly find themselves embroiled in scandal and crime.
Room 415 is definitely a disturbing bit of fiction and it pulls no punches. This is a work of horror that is perhaps a bit too realistic, but extremely powerful in its delivery.
Mania Grade: B
Written by: Edward Lee
Publisher: Necro Publications