Night Film

Marisha Pessl

Night Film
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Night Film

Marisha Pessl

Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn’t been seen in public since 1971. To his fans he is an enigma. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father.

On a damp October night the young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty. For McGrath, another death connected the legendary director seems more than coincidence.

Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid. The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lose his grip on reality.


In 2006 I read and loved Marisha Pessl’s first novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, a 500-page coming-of-age story bursting with literary and pop-culture references. It was an ambitious, fascinating book that left me eager to read more of Pessl’s work. Seven years later, she has finally released her highly anticipated second novel.

Night Film follows journalist Scott McGrath as he works to uncover the truth about reclusive cult film director Stanislas Cordova. Cordova hasn’t been seen in public since 1971 and his films have evolved from Oscar-winning thrillers to bleak, disturbing horror movies. When Cordova’s 24-year-old daughter Ashley commits suicide, McGrath is determined to prove that Cordova is hiding some very dark secrets.

Night Film is a slow-burning, elaborately plotted mystery. The text is accompanied by visual aids, including screenshots of websites, reproductions of newspaper articles, photographs and handwritten notes, all of which add depth and novelty to the unfolding investigation.

Pessl’s greatest achievement in Night Film is the creation of Cordova, who looms over the narrative at every turn. With a dead wife, a dead daughter, an obsessive fan following and rumours about his odd behaviour, everything about Cordova is deliciously eerie and enigmatic. The sheer level of detail Pessl provides for Cordova’s filmography is extraordinary – at times I found myself forgetting that Cordova is a fictional character and his movies don’t really exist.

Night Film is a gripping, strange and often creepy read. Pessl’s writing style won’t be to everyone’s taste but the novel contains some utterly thrilling sequences worth the price of the book alone

Nina Kenwood is the Online Manager for Readings.

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