Night Film

night film jacketNight Film by Marisha Pessl

From the title, this sounds like a dark book, and it is.  A combination of horror and mystery, the novel is  centered around the activities of Stanilas Cordova, a genius movie director, who produced a limited and very notorious group of films made in the seventies and eighties that were so malevolent and disturbing that they were banned from being viewed in theaters and thus could only be seen through special viewings set up by his cult of followers, called Cordovites. These viewings took place in hidden underground venues. The movies were produced on Cordova’s secluded and highly secure residence, surrounded by an twenty foot high impenetrable concrete barrier. All the actors are hired not so much for their talent as their ability to keep a secret. Cordova has not given an interview or been seen in thirty years. There are rumors that these movies Cordova has been making are “snuff” films” but there is no evidence.

The plot begins with the suicide of Stanilas’s daughter, Ashley Cordova, a gorgeous, brilliant child and a piano prodigy. Scott McGrath, a veteran journalist, suspects that Ashley’s death is not a suicide, and with two young people who knew Ashley intimately, sets out to discover the “Truth”.  As they probe deeper into the Oeuvre of the secretive director, the trail leads through depraved night clubs, secluded apartment buildings and ultimately to The Peak,  the mystery shrouded Adirondack estate of Cordova, which has been long been abandoned.

The book is full of page turning excitement, and not a few dark gruesome scenes. However the end of the book resembles Captain Willard’s search for the enigmatic Colonel Kurtz in the movie “Apocalypse Now”.  Can the true horror of people ever be known.  As Colonel Kurtz says at the end of the movie, “The Horror, the Horror”.


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