Top positive review
A taut, claustrophobic new entry in the grand tradition of the bottle-nightmare.
Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2020
I have never been more grateful for my fully functional nuclear family (or more curious about just how quickly we might disintegrate into dysfunction under real duress) than while reading Max Booth III's We Need to Do Something. Possessed of a fiendishly propulsive momentum despite taking place almost entirely in a single room, this compact thriller locks an already fraying family of four in a windowless bathroom of existential, No Exit-style dread, and spends the next 140 pages methodically relieving them of their humanity (and drawing some fascinating parallels between the ancient evils of black magic and the ever-expanding powers of modern technology along the way). Between the terrifying patriarch's descent into dipsomania, and the teenage heroine's increasingly fraught, hallucinatory flashbacks to amateur necromancy gone awry, this book deftly blurs the lines between reality and madness, and pulls off the neat trick of constantly feeling like it's right on the edge of some explosion of violence, only to remind the reader again and again that these characters have nowhere to go but further inward, and no one to hurt but themselves. By the time his claustrophobic tale reaches its horrific conclusion, Booth has more than earned his place in a grand bottle-nightmare tradition that stretches from Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum, to Stephen King's The Mist, to the films of the New French Extremity like Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury's Inside, or Gaspar Noe's Climax. All of which is to say, once you get locked into We Need to Do Something, it all but demands to be read in one sitting, if only to be certain you get back out.