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Night Film by Marisha Pessl: Nope

I can't handle scary movies. I can't handle scary movies to the point where when I watched a documentary on H.H. Holmes by myself, I then called my friend to make her tell me he wasn't hiding in my apartment, AND THEN I CHECKED ALL THE CLOSETS. So I usually don't go out of my way to expose myself to scary things, but when I do, they better actually be scary, damnit.

Yes, this movie terrifies me. He has a MASK ON,
people.

I'm not sure what gave me the impression Night Film would be scary. Things gleaned from other reviews? The cover? The concept? Not sure. But was it scary? No. No, it 100% was not. And I want the money back that I did not spend because I got it from the library.

The plot is there's an investigative journalist named Scott McGrath (+10 for Journalist-Sounding Name) who's looking into a filmmaker named Stanislaus Cordova who makes the scariest movies in the history of ever that make you reexamine your own life or look into your soul and DEAL with the shit you find there or something like that.

Along the way, he picks up two sidekicks and the whole thing plays out like that Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego computer game from the '90s where you'd go from like Lisbon to Brussels and meet some guy in a shady hat who was like "Yeah, I seen him. Couldn't make out his features much because of the red beard, but he had a Tagalog dictionary with him" and then you'd check off 'facial hair' and ask your mom where they spoke Tagalog and take your little plane to the next city.

So the whole book is them being led from clue to clue until -- BAM! They've got the bad guy. But Carmen Sandiego has eluded them again.

Better luck next time, gumshoe.

It's readable. The nature of the "this leads to this leads to this" means the book keeps moving. I eventually stopped regarding it as literature and thought of it as a really passive game I was playing. But it seemed to all be leading to a really exciting payoff, and -- nope. Uh-uh. None of that. Pretty much everything that could've been exciting becomes unexciting when the conclusion comes trotting in.

If you're NOT looking for a scary book, then you might like it? It's a quick read, and I like what Pessl does with screenshots of websites. She also does a really good job of integrating Cordova into late 20th century popular culture, to the point where it seems like he could be a part of the filmmaking world and you've just somehow overlooked him until now.

But don't make the mistake of thinking the author keeps stretching out the tension so you'll be REALLY scared by the ending. That only leads to disappointment and Charlie Brown sadness.

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