Book Review: Night Film-Marisha Pessl

imagesFinishing the final pages of Night Film, I don’t think I’ve ever felt completely stripped apart as a person by a book before. Night Film  left me questioning myself and my footprints in the world. It is rare to come across a book that not only grips you from beginning to end, but guts you like some kind of common sea animal, encapsulating your fears and placing them directly in front of your eyes. Marisha Pessl has proven to be an outstanding author; one who has clearly made her presence known in the literary world.

The novel focuses on Scott McGrath a journalist investigating Ashley Cordova’s alleged suicide. Ashley Cordova is the daughter of Stanislas Cordova, a legendary cult filmmaker of horrors who is shrouded in darkness and mystery. Mostly all of his films are banned and have to be viewed underground because of the brutal and graphic nature of the film. The actors in the film are vowed to keep silent of what takes place on set, which causes the public to question whether the atrocities in Cordova’s film are simulated for the sake of production, or if they are actually real. Cordova’s work is revered among many and those most loyal refer to themselves as Cordovites. These “fans” even go so far as to invent a private site called the Blackboards to discuss all things dark and related to Cordova. Ten years ago, Scott McGrath had previously investigated the infamous director, but it only led to self destruction of his career and placed him at the foot of ridicule within the journalism world. Now with the death of Cordova’s daughter, McGrath seeks the opportunity to reclaim his career and life, and begins to investigate in a case which completely catapults him into a psycho-reality. McGrath follows the darkness of Ashley’s death, along with the help of two twenty-somethings, Hopper and Nora. Throughout the journey of finding answers, characters are challenged with things unknown and in the end, themselves.

There is no doubt, reading Night Film gave me chills that would last for hours. I would often catch myself falling in the darkness of the book, and when I would close the book I would have a lingering feeling of uneasiness. The novel is more of an experience rather than a thriller read. Night Film  is filled with scanned documents, pictures, and articles to make the suicide and Cordova seem so real and alive.

You find yourself falling down into a rabbit hole that is the novel and you uncover the truth about Ashley and her father. Yet, truth is always questioned. What do we find at the end of the tunnel? The truth or just another loophole, never satisfying our desire for an  answer. Pessl does a fantastic job in creating a world that completely liberates, terrifies, challenges, and resonates deep within your core. It truly is hard to explain the novel until you read it yourself.

Mortal fear is as crucial a thing to our lives as love. It cuts to the core of our being and shows us what we are. Will you step back and cover your eyes? Or will you have the strength to walk to the precipice and look out? Do you want to know what is there or live in the dark delusion that this…

[excerpt from the book]

Needless to say, I enjoyed Pessl’s novel and would highly recommended it to those willing to be “dared.” The narration is told in first person which places you right alongside the narrator Scott, inside his head even. I, however, can’t say I was completely satisfied with the ending which left me feeling as if a giant thumbscrew (the book uses this reference quite a bit) had been used on every ligament of my body. The ending of the novel took a creative direction which left me searching for more, swallowing the last bits of ice water in the glass without the promise of more. A novel that is sure to be talked about for a while, Night Film is a book for seekers who aren’t afraid of a bottomless tombs.


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