The Portsmouth Review

Night Film Book Review

Night Film by Marisha Pessl Book Review

Night Film is an award-winning mystery that is as dark as it is entertaining. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets the movie 8MM when a disgraced journalist investigates the life of an enigmatic horror flick director, his cult-like followers, and the death of his daughter. Random House | Hardcover | 2013 | 602 pp

Scott McGrath had been taken to the cleaners by the subject of his investigation: Stanislas Cordova. When Scott made a brash comment in public, Cordova – the extremely private director of horror films, had sued for libel and won. When Cordova’s daughter Ashley commits suicide, the temptation to get back into the investigation proves to be too tempting.

Cordova was a man who hadn’t made a public appearance in decades, yet he had produced recent films. They all were produced on his own property, The Peak – a sprawling fortress containing his private home, acres of land, and warehouses filled with sets. People who had acted in his films signed privacy waivers and would never discuss working with him. His films were so taboo and controversial that his later works were illegal, only obtainable on the black market and watched by private groups of followers.

Cordova was already an elusive mystery. But the death of his daughter, a brilliant pianist deemed as genius, stirred the pot. Why would she commit suicide?

Looking into the first clues, Scott takes on two young adults who desperately want in on the action. Hopper, a former acquaintance of Ashley from years prior, and Nora, one of the last people to see Ashley alive. As they follow the clues and hear the stories, their investigation begins to reveal a supernatural element with hexes, spells, devil worshipers, and Ashley’s tormented soul. And Cordova seems to be at the center of it all.

Scott just wants the truth. He’s not a believer in the occult and he rolls his eyes at the notion of dark and mysterious forces at work – at first. After a while, he’s not too sure. The deeper he goes in, the more dangerous things get.

Night Film is a complex mystery that easily suspends belief just long enough to be completely submersed in the creepy crawlies of supernatural horror. It’s a great balance between the two – mystery and that type of unseen horror, the scary kind when you don’t know what you’re afraid of, you just know that you’re scared as sh**. A wild imagination is more terrifying than any jump-scare.

This book is brilliant with setting the story, and letting you fill in the gory, dark, and restless blanks.

Night Film
by Marisha Pessl

Night Film





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