'Night Film' is gothic thriller
When reclusive director Stanislas Cordova's beautiful 24-year-old daughter Ashley is found dead under mysterious circumstances, grizzled investigative journalist Scott McGrath takes up the case in Marisha Pessl's gothic thriller “Night Film.”
Cordova, modeled on cult filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick and Roman Polanski, is known for horror movies with names like “Thumbscrew” and “At Night All Birds Are Black.” His movies seem to affect people strangely and are rumored to show real violence, and he has been disavowed by mainstream cinema. A group of rabid fans dissect his movies obsessively and show them at secret screenings at night.
As McGrath and two 20-something partners he picks up along the way delve deeper into Ashley's death, they all get sucked into the sinister world of Cordova, which includes a psychiatric ward, black magic and a sprawling, deserted compound in upstate New York known as The Peak.
Pessl, who won critical raves for her 2006 debut novel, “Special Topics in Calamity Physics,” knows how to keep the creep factor simmering on low while the plot thickens, but, ultimately, she is more interested in storytelling than scares. She interweaves the narrative with visuals such as reprinted websites, photographs, magazine articles and typed-up notes that all deepen the Cordova mystique.
At nearly 600 pages, keeping track of the novel's twists and turns can be exhausting, but “Night Film” is never boring.
And some set pieces are exhilarating, including one near the end when McGrath finds himself stumbling through an endless maze of perfectly preserved Cordova movie sets, increasingly unsure if he is still investigating Cordova's death, or inside a movie himself.
Mae Anderson is a staff writer for the Associated Press.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Harrison’s 5 RBIs help Pirates pound Brewers
- Steelers notebook: Spence’s future uncertain after reinjuring knee
- Lopsided loss to Eagles shows Steelers have issues aplenty
- Sandusky cover-up case unusually shrouded
- Distracted Steelers show nothing in loss to Eagles
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- Mother Nature takes a swat at Western Pa. stink bugs
- O’Hara teen finds inspiration for flying, dodging robot in fruit fly
- Beware mergers’ bad spawn
- From heifers to science projects, Westmoreland Fair judges enjoy their task
- Fabregas: ALS videos tiresome, but effective as fundraiser