So, I decided that I would read some camping-themed horror since I was going on a camping trip with my kids’ scout troop. The book I ended up choosing was The Troop by Nick Cutter. Body horror to the max undersells it. It made me squirm while reading it. Worms in places there should never be worms. Teenagers carving each other up. Psychosis-induced pika.
Content Warning: Extreme body horror, self-harm, and minor spoilers for a 7-year-old book.
The Troop is a cross between Lord of the Flies and Slither. A troop of 14-year-old Canadian scouts is on a remote island off of Prince Edward Island with their troop leader, Tim, the town doc. A stranger steals a motorboat and goes to the same island the troop is camping on. Tim hears the stranger approaching the cabin and confronts him. He sees the man is incredibly sick and tries to help him. Bad move, Tim. The weekend campout ends up with a lot of dead boy scouts.
The scenes where Shelley (who is a closet psychopath) tells Ephraim to look for the worms inside himself with a knife that aren’t there: shudder. These scenes go into graphic detail and just thinking about a 14-year-old trying to yank out his own veins made me feel queasy. The worms desiccate and feed upon everything. They sneak in everywhere, and I do mean everywhere, they shouldn’t be described in gory detail.
It’s not all worms and dead scouts though. Okay, it’s mostly that, but there are also some interesting comments on the military-industrial complex, friendship, and growing up in a small town. The Stephen King influences abound, but it’s no copycat. If you can make it through the squishy parts, you’ll find an enjoyable(?) horror experience.