Brilliant, haunting, breathtakingly suspenseful, Night Film is a superb literary thriller by the New York Times best-selling author of the "blockbuster debut" (People) Special Topics in Calamity Physics.
On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive, cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova - a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than 30 years.
For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.
Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.
The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.
Night Film, the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense to the final minute.
©2013 Marisha Pessl (P)2013 Random House Audio
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Pessl approaches this novel like a film -- with a filmmaker's attention to the set, the lighting, the camera angles -- creating the perfect mise en scène for a film-like experience with this gothic psychological thriller. The story borrows elements from iconic directors we are all familiar with (Hitchcock, Lynch, Kubrick, Polanski), but Pessl has used those influences intentionally and well, and combined them with the novelty of the multimedia PDF. The photos, news clippings, movie posters, etc. give an odd sense of surrealism to the reading experience. Even the cover of the book pays a kind of tribute to an older classic thriller, Don't Look Now with its red-coated dopplegänger.
Having read this a while a go and coming back and re-writing a review (after a problem with my first), the impact of the PDF seems evident. You are immediately immersed and you won't want to put the book down. Being involved in the story is consuming; the *props* of the pictures, obituaries, articles etc. suck you in and keep you gripped in a very atmospheric experience. With some separation, I still feel this was a spooky fun story well worth the time, but not the blockbuster I'd hoped for. As an experience, just like a good carnival ride, you feel like you'd like it to go on and on, but as a book you'd pull off the shelf and sit down to read -- it makes a few too many laps that didn't add anything (other than a little more time on the coaster). Still it was one of the most fun reads I've had in a while, and I have to give Pessl an extra star for a great effort, and her attention to detail.
With all of the devil worship, witch craft, on and on...I thought the most *terrifying* aspect of this book was in one of the many little possibilities that Pessl slips in...sometimes the events we have to face in reality make the most terrifying and horrible nightmares pale in comparison. The accompanying media is crafted very well (the PDF comes with the purchase and is easily accessible) and adds a fun dimension to a well written book.
Have you ever watched a film and clung to a pillow like it’s the last life preserver on the Titanic? Eyes blown wide open, skin prickling in terror, instincts screaming ‘run’ but you’re held captive by the depravity playing out before you? Have you ever wondered – as the credits crawl up the screen and you find yourself nauseated at the thought of being alone in a dark room– what kind of person has those horrors locked in his head?
In Marisha Pessl’s Night Film, it is Stanislas Cordova: writer, director and producer of films so violently macabre that audiences must meet in abandoned tunnels to view his banned material. Cordova’s name is synonymous with the blackest corners of humanity but despite the infamy of his work and rabidly devoted fan base, very little is known about the man. His personal life is a black hole. All who collaborate on his films: actors, crew, even family, refuse to speak about their experiences.
Despite ruining his reputation by inquiring into the director's life year's earlier, investigative journalist Scott McGrath cannot uproot an instinct that Cordova’s work reflects a profound and tangible evil. After Cordova’s daughter commits suicide in a crumbling warehouse, McGrath takes up his line of questioning once again determined to bring the truth about the director to the surface.
Pessl’s story, augmented by mock-up articles, websites, and eerie photographs (all accessible on a PDF that comes with the audio version) pulls the reader through a kaleidoscopic nightmare. It’s 23 hours long and even though some twists feel contrived, the writing is excellent and the atmosphere, chilling.
This book is like walking down a rural road at midnight with the unnerving certainty that someone is following you. Just because you can’t see anyone as you glance anxiously over your shoulder doesn’t mean you’re alone.
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You will feel detached from reality off and on, and unable to tell what is real and what isn't. This is the brilliance of this writer--to keep you as off balance as the characters in the novel. No matter if you love the story or not, there is no question that Marisha Pessl is a superbly talented writer. I loved it.
The review by Linda does an excellent job of summing up the story without giving anything away. She wrote what I was feeling.
I will look up other works by this author as time goes by, hoping she comes up with another gem like this one. In the meantime, I plan on listening to this one again.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
Okay, I'll skip the synopsis as other reviewers have done a terrific job with the summaries. However this quote from the book best summarizes the experience of reading/listening to this book I think, “Just when you think you've hit rock bottom, you realize you're standing on another trapdoor.”
― Marisha Pessl, Night Film
M. Pessl gives the reader/listener quite a roller-coaster ride in this story. The supporting documentation makes the fantasy come alive in such a unique cool way.
From the beginning the listener/reader becomes invested in the characters. It's nearly impossible for a writer to keep the reader/listener intensely interested and truly engaged in such a long book (listening for 23 hours and 9 minutes) but Pessl does that, expertly. In fact at the end I wanted to begin the book again, start over with what I learned with a new perspective. (I'm making myself wait a while)
However I'm not sure what to listen to next really, what kind of book can follow an experience like this?
The narrator is also terrific, truly a professional who captures the pace, story and accents with precision.
I enjoy listening to audiobooks while woking in my shop or around the house -sort of mental multitasking.
Ms. Pessi really spins a good yarn. The story moves along, and really holds one's attention. The characters are interesting and realistic. It was the same in her first novel. Also the same as her first novel, as much as I enjoyed the story, I was disappointed in the ending. It seemed a little far fetched and contrived to me.
Love a great book that stays with you long after you've finished it.
Wonderful read with intriguing mysteries. I made myself wait to listen so this book would last longer or I would have listened to it start to finish. I would not change a thing about this book, it leaves you thinking, wondering about the characters, and the narration is fabulous, great character voices and accents.
I thought the premise of the story was interesting and i liked the creepy tone. I was hooked for a while, but it went on way too long. Some of the sequences were tangents that didn't move the story forward. Also, she repeated some stories more than once. I think the author needed a better editor. The ending was disappointing and seemed lazy - like the author couldn't be bothered to resolve things, so she just ended the book. That cost the book a star or two for me. I thought the narrator was really good.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I am in the minority here, as I do not fully agree with most of the other reviewers. Although this book starts well, and Pessl's writing is very good, I found "Night Film" to be something of a slog. It's just too long - why can't she and many other talented young writers (I'm talking to you, Tana French) learn the value of listening to a good, exacting editor?
I liked the premise, and the characters are quirky and compelling, but so much of this book is just going in circles. It adds up to much ado about not much. Sorry, but I think I'll skip the next one.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of suspense films or novels. The author crafts a story that immerses the reader into a universe that is so vivid that you can literally see the entire story as it's being narrated.
Night Film is very original and you would be hard to find a similar story. While it falls into a modern noir category the writing and incorporation of the digital material makes it very unique.
While Weber comes off as monotonous initially you eventually accept it and even embrace it. His performance as the other characters is acceptable but not great. I would listen to another book narrated by Weber.
The entire story is gripping and you will find yourself scrutinizing the details.
Night Film exceeded all of my expectations. I had heard a bunch of hype about this book and that alone has generally been cause for a big inevitable let down when the book that has been defined as the next "Gone Girl" or "Harry Potter" only garners a big "Meh" once I finish the book and move on to the next.
Night Film, however, held my attention throughout. From the first creepy appearance of Ashley Cordova I was hooked. Tensions steadily build from page one until you start to get the feeling that something horrible could happen at any moment.
Night Film is one of those books that I really didn't want to come to an end.
Excellent narration, great story, intriguing ending.. well worth your audiobook credit!
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