Lit React ~ Analysis & reactions on works of fiction.

02 Sept 2011

(Novel) The Fall by: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

(Reaction) Darkness Falls with Humanity: A Critique of The Fall by: Michelle Rose Solano

If you are looking for supernatural romance, glittering vampires and handsome werewolves, The Fall by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro is not your book. Set in present day New York, The Fall realistically shows how the world will go about coping with the end of days - brought about by a spreading vampire menace.

Vampirism is not romanticized in The Fall. It is not sensual. While most vampire novels use vampirism as an allegory for unbridled human sexuality or the results of the repression of it, The Fall juxtaposes vampirism as a disease, like humanity's cruelty and greed, that will eventually wipe out the human race from within. Much like many of the human race's atrocities and corruptions, the government chose to cover up and deny the fast-spreading vampire virus, saying it is the only way to prevent mass panic and hysteria. But mass panic and hysteria ensues in all the great cities of the world, as a result of ignorance and fear of the unknown evil preying on men, women and children when the sun goes down.

As a nod to the title, the hero of the story is Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, a fugitive who has fallen from grace with his former employers, the Center for Disease Control, for putting up a video on YouTube of a real vampire slaying as a way to expose the threat of vampire infection spreading in America. His plan backfires because he is discredited as a fraud and his video called a hoax. Through bribery and corruption, the truth remains hidden from the public, because the lord of all vampires - the Master - has studied mankind long enough to know how to manipulate humanity's worst attributes to further his plan: the fall of the human race.

While many will automatically think the title alludes to the end of days, a closer look at the heroes and antiheroes of the story will show that The Fall's title may actually be referring to the descent of mankind into evil - a fall into the darkness of mankind's abyss. The novel flashes back to Nazi-occupied Europe of the 1940s, the disaster of Chernobyl and the tragedy of 9/11, subtly reminding the reader that vampirism and violence evolved like a mutating disease with the aid of humanity's atrocities.

As the years advanced, the human race continued using the developments in science and technology to inflict pain and suffering on one another. The Master explained to the hero, that he was merely a student, honing his skills by watching and learning from us, using the worst side of humanity - greed, corruption, dissention, anarchy - against her and leading her to her inevitable doom. As the Master's second-in-command, former Nazi camp commandant turned vampire, Eichhorst explained: The Master learns from humans. That is the key element of his greatness. He watches and he sees. Your kind has shown him the way to your own final solution. I see only packs of animals, but he sees patterns of behavior...

It was in the Nazi death camps that the Master first encountered the idea of herding humans, creating camps and stockyards across the country and the world. It was not vampire genius but human evil that gave these ideas to the lord of the vampires: Man's own inhumanity to man had whet the monster's appetite for havoc. We had, through our atrocities, demonstrated our own doom to the ultimate nemesis, welcoming him as though by prophesy.

Humanity, like all creatures that used to roam the earth, will rise and will fall. In the end of the story, the biggest irony is that we ourselves are the architects of our downfall.


It is important to note that Guillermo del Toro, famed director of Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, co-wrote this novel and brought his modern gothic sensibility into the book. As a director turned writer, del Toro brought his visual stunning, dark worlds into life with his words, allowing the reader to see in their mind's eye the bleakness of the world, the vividness of the night and the horrors unseen behind the folds of darkness. This is a must read for fans of the horror and suspense genre.

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