The Enemy Inside You
Author: Jeff Strand
Benjamin has a problem. At first it started with candy bars. Several hundred a day to be exact. And then, well, let’s just say his desire for his wife has grown a bit extreme and far too kinky. But there are other things too that are more disturbing than all this. Benjamin is changing. Benjamin is losing control, and it’s all thanks to a little buddy escaped from a laboratory that is pulling the strings, calling the shots, and yeah, kind of killing its host. Benjamin is not having a good time. And it’s about to get a lot weirder and a lot worse.
If you’ve ever read Jeff Strand, you know that Benjamin’s Parasite is going to be a hallucinatory mélange of the weird, the disturbing, and the darkly comedic. It’s an acquired taste and an extreme one. Like coffee mixed with kerosene. A little bit good and a lotta bit lethal. (Not that I have ever had coffee with kerosene, mind you.)
The story starts pretty hardcore, with an extreme son-against-mother murder, one that manages to mock violent first-person shooter games while cranking the gore and setting the tone for an irreverent, sometimes disturbing piece. Honestly, it was a little much for me at first. Despite my love of horror, I shy away from patricide and matricide stories. It’s just too horrible.
But the story quickly goes from horrifying to quirky, taking a lighter tone after the gore-smeared dissolution of an innocent family. We meet Benjamin, the murderous kid’s teacher, who just so happens to be the next host. From there, alongside the parasite, we’re in Benjamin’s head, and it becomes part body horror, party zany (sometimes stupid) comedy.
Benjamin ends up being abducted by a gun-toting lady who claims to be the good-guy. She rescues him a few times and also puts him in extreme danger a few times. Meanwhile, a duo of stupid brothers who happen to be gangsters are chasing after Benjamin and his unwanted guest. It all becomes a mash-up of near misses, jocular dialogue, and a continually putrefying Benjamin. The horror element goes away, or at least stays centered in Benjamin’s increasing disgustingness, and the often over done slapstick comedy takes the wheel. The story ends with all the blood and guts you could want, but by that time it’s just splatterpunk turned upside down into a splatter-laugh track. It’s certainly different – a bit too much for its own good. While it’s a chuckle here and there, it’s not Strand’s best. Strand at his best combines horror, wild-ass plots, and dark humor. Here, it’s just wild and silly with a tad bit of background horror. Entertaining, but not especially memorable or fun.
For Strand at his very best, check out Blister and, surprisingly, Clowns vs Spiders. Benjamin’s Parasite is worth a read too, if you have the stomach for it and a seriously warped and altogether diseased funny bone. Sort of maybe recommended for a very select audience who takes their coffee with a dash of the explosive.
– Frances Carden
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