Book Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

night film

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Scott McGrath’s journalism career has stalled because years ago, he tried to expose Stanislas Cordova, a brilliant but reclusive horror film director.  McGrath went up against Cordova, sure that something illicit and dangerous was happening on Cordova’s compound, The Peak.  Instead, Cordova filed a lawsuit against McGrath, and all but ended McGrath’s career and credibility.  One day, it is discovered that Cordova’s only daughter, Ashley, committed suicide in an abandoned warehouse, and now McGrath wants to find out why she ended her life, but also if it has to do with her famous father.

It is difficult to review Night Film without giving anything away.  I will say, however, that Night Film is incredibly intense, and Pessl’s writing has the ability to quickly pull you into McGrath’s world.  I stayed up fairly late two consecutive nights because I had to know what was going to happen.  The novel is over 500 pages, so it is lengthy, and there are many backstories and tangents on McGrath’s journey.   There is very little to criticize with Night Film; the one thing I will say is that I thought it was a tad bit too long.  It all eventually comes together, but I’m torn whether or not shaving one or two events would have done any harm.

One aspect of Night Film that I absolutely loved was Pessl’s use of mixed media.  Instead of merely mentioning a newspaper article, Pessl actually inserts a copy of the article, giving Night Film a gritty, noir vibe.  Overall, it makes the reader feel as if they are right there beside McGrath trying to figure out the mystery, rather than reading a summary of the article or case/interview notes. In this way, Night Film is more of an experience, rather than a book. If you want to up the creep factor (if that’s even possible), you should definitely read Night Film on a dark, rainy and windy night.  It’s the perfect book for that kind of weather.

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