First published back in February of 2018, British author Mat Shaw’s novella ‘Dribble’ promised another dose of sickening and inherently repulsive extreme horror.

DLS Synopsis:
Helen knew if she didn’t take her meds then she would more than likely end up doing things she’d later regret.  That was Bipolar disorder for you.  Shit seemed like a good idea at the time, but in the cold light of day, would turn out to be something she’d later regret doing.

Decisions like picking up this random guy at the bar.  Although he seemed nice enough.  Reasonably well groomed and clearly happy to take her back to his.  However, Donnie Jacobs wasn’t the innocent, slightly shy guy he projected himself as.  He had ulterior motives.  Sex didn’t even come into the equation for him.

But when Helen finally realises she’s made a bad mistake going with the guy, it’s far too late.  He’d tied her to the bed, and once she’d started to squirm, he’d poured acid in her eyes.  He told himself it was done for her sake.  So that she couldn’t look at him when he revealed what was about to happen to her.  He was just following orders.  Blind them first so as not to see the look in their eyes.  Blind them to close the windows to their souls.  Blind them to do them a favour, so they can’t see what was coming.

Her death brought him no comfort, but so he told himself, entirely necessary.  Afterwards all that was left to do was remove the clothes and get her downstairs to the front room.  It was how they liked them presented.  It was what they demanded.

A Home from Home was an exclusive care home for the elderly set close to the National Park along the Tennessee-North Carolina border.  Off the beaten track, the care home was one that had few visitors.  The elderly residents preferring to live out their final days away from society.  Away from prying eyes.

But when three teenagers turn up on the care home’s doorstep after their camping gear is stolen, the residents are more than happy to welcome them in.  Just the sight of three young visitors is enough to get them excited.  Enough to have them dribbling at the thought of what was soon to follow…

DLS Review:
Is it wrong to find old people just that little bit unsettling?  I’m not talking about kindly old ladies with a twinkle in their eye and a bag of boiled sweets in their purse.  I’m referring to frail and decrepit old people, living out their final days in a musty nursing home.  Dribbling and drooling.  Dentures and aching bones.  Whiling away their final days watching day-time-television, soiling themselves and looking forward to the next batch of their hourly medication.

Shaw knows there’s something a bit off-putting about such old people.  And he’s utilised this inherent aversion to its full effect in what is quite simply, a grim as fuck read.

The plot itself is relatively simple.  It’s like something the late Richard Laymon might have dreamt up, only done with a Matt Shaw extreme horror edge to it.  Hapless teenagers turning up on the doorstep of a nursing home, seeking help after their camping gear’s been stolen, only to find the residents not as kindly as they first appear.  It’s a goddam textbook horror premise.

Rather than bombard the reader with scene after scene of horrific brutality, Shaw has instead opted for repulsing his audience with scenes purely designed to nauseate and appal.  Dribbling, drooling old people, fighting over the tight young bodies of their victims.  Sucking and slurping of liquefied flesh.  And all at the dusty, shaking hands of these sagging and withered old bodies.

That’s not to say there’s not plenty of hard-hitting violence in there.  In fact, the novella opens up with such a scene.  The eyeballs of Helen Helton being burnt away with acid before her skull is eventually caved in with a claw hammer.  Of course that’s not the only scene where we’re subjected to such savage brutality.  Nevertheless, Shaw does focus more on twisting his audience’s guts into knots with nauseating vileness, rather than smashing them in the face with such scenes of viciousness.

If you’ve read Shaun Hutson’s ‘Compulsion’ (2001) then you’ll no doubt be thinking what you have here is something reasonably similar.  And in many ways there are similarities.  But Shaw’s got his own story to tell.  Something far more repulsive.  Something designed to put you off your food.

With ‘Dribble’ you’re subjected to a melee of vileness and nauseating treats.  All through the tale there’s an underlying sense of gut-churning wrongfulness and corpse-cold dread to what’s gradually being unveiled.  Shaw puts the storyline together like pieces in a sick jigsaw, and only in the final section of the novella, do we find out the sickening details of exactly what’s going on in the care home.

This is not a story for the squeamish.  And definitely not one to be read whilst eating.

The novella runs for a total of 150 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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