Aug 15 2015

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

I wasn’t inclined to like the novel itself, but the really cool interactive app made this worthwhile for me. I loved the film posters and publicity photos I uncovered that way (and that creepy diary!) tho the audio clips were more hit and miss. If I never have to encounter the tedious and whiny Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock again, it won’t be too soon.

Anyway, the book. If you love gory, violent horror movies, you will likely also love Night Film. I don’t, so a lot of the book was wasted on me. I appreciated some of the atmospherics, but a lot of the hysteria, and even McGrath’s ordeal at The Peak, elicited the same annoyed “Jesus, get a grip” reaction I feel when forced to watch schlocky occult horror. I appreciate what Marisha Pessl was trying to do with this book, to explore the line between science and magic in the human brain, and to pace the novel like one of the titular movies. While the latter endeavor was mostly successful depending on how much you buy in to the cultural commodity of underground movies, I felt the first aim relied a bit too much on hand-waving (particularly with the “oh, he’s just crazy, OR IS HE?!?!” treatment of the Spider,) which is a disappointment in an author this meticulous. I get that she was likely being deliberately vague in order to leave room for doubt in the reader’s mind, but it just came out muddled. It was interesting to see her continue to explore the theme of fathers and daughters she’d examined in the superlative Special Topics In Calamity Physics, and I very much enjoyed the almost bittersweet nature of the ending, but I just don’t feel that Night Film worked very well as a book. Fortunately, it was intended as a multimedia experience, which made it better. On its own, though, it’s not the greatest novel.

Also, argh, the italics. Everywhere and for no good reason. It was exhausting. <--- Me sharing my pain, with apologies to you, dear reader.

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