- Paperback: 312 pages
- Publisher: ChiZine Publications (December 3, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1771483490
- ISBN-13: 978-1771483490
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #545,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Experimental Film Paperback – December 3, 2015
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Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times-bestselling author of the Southern Reach trilogy
Experimental Film is sensational. When we speak of the best in contemporary horror and weird fiction, we must speak of Gemma Files.”
Laird Barron, Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and The Croning
Gemma Files’s stories are always so smart and humane, and overwhelm the reader with a true sense of wonder, awe, and horror. She is, simply put, one of the most powerful and unique voices in weird fiction today.”
Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts
Experimental Film represents the next, significant contribution to what is emerging as one of the most interesting and exciting bodies of work currently being produced in the horror field. Every film, Lois Cairns writes, is an experiment. The same might be said of every novel. This one succeeds, wildly.”
--Locus Online Reviews
"Experimental Film lives in the flicker between light and darkness, shifting between glimpses of the grim nigrescence of a hostile universe punctuated by dazzling bursts of empathy and love. Traditionally, those horror protagonists who catch sight even briefly of the naked malevolence of the world tend to die, go mad, or forget what they have seen. But Files offers a fourth alternative: meaningful survival, accepting responsibility for those around you, getting on with your chosen work. From an author who has already established herself as one of the genre’s most original and innovative voices, Experimental Film is a remarkable achievement."
--LA Review of Books
"When film reviewer Lois Cairns discovers a series of early silent films may have been by Canada’s first female filmmaker, she thinks she’s hit the motherlode. But as Lois digs deeper, she discovers there’s something sinister about the films and what’s in them and waiting to get out. You can’t help but stick with Lois because, like her, you can’t turn away from what she’s uncovered. That, and she knows some things about storytelling. There’s a transgressive quality to the way Lois claims her story and insists on telling it her own way. Chilling horror that will appeal to genre and literary readers alike."
--The Globe and Mail
From the Back Cover
WINNER--2016 Sunburst Award
Fired at almost the same time as her son Clark’s Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, former film critic turned teacher Lois Cairns is caught in a depressive downward spiral, convinced she’s a failure who’s spent half her adult life writing about other people’s dreams without ever seeing any of her own come true. One night Lois attends a program of experimental film and emerges convinced she’s seen something no one else hasa sampled piece of silver nitrate silent film footage whose existence might prove that an eccentric early 20th-century socialite who disappeared under mysterious circumstances was also one of Canada’s first female movie-makers. Though it raises her spirits and revitalizes her creatively, Lois’s headlong quest to discover the truth about Mrs. A. Macalla Whitcomb almost immediately begins to send her much further than she ever wanted to go, revealing increasingly troubling links between her subject’s life and her own. Slowly but surely, the malign influence of Mrs Whitcomb’s muse begins to creep into every aspect of Lois’s life, even placing her son in danger. But how can one increasingly ill and unstable woman possibly hope to defeat a threat that’s half long-lost folklore, half cinematically framed hallucinationan existential nightmare made physical, projected off the screen and into real life?
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Top Customer Reviews
The answer, I think, is no. There is so much to love about Files’s novel, so many layers to peel back, that these chance synchronicities cannot possibly account for my total reaction. If you are fascinated by film history (Canadian or otherwise) and obscure folklore and Edwardian spiritualism and gloriously broken people who you cannot help but root for, there is a lot here for you to devour. Files treats all of these topics seriously and confidently, even though in many ways these elements are (only?) grease for the inner workings of a story that will scour you. The dual engines of this novel are Files’s immense power to evoke and convey the weird and her intimate and clear-eyed ability to present a main character who is the mother of a young son on the autism spectrum. These twin elements are the Scylla and Charybdis of Experimental Film, and at no time did I feel that I was in the hands of anything less than a master of the weird, who was bent on showing me something I have never seen before, something I have never felt.
Experimental Film is not brawny. It is not sketched in the muscular, three-color panels of the whiskey-soaked weird. It is grayscale, silver-tinted, with a flickering beam of terror that is sliced with a glittering shutter blade of midday sunlight forty-eight times every second. When you finally hear the end of the reel slapping against the projector, you’ll have to remind yourself to breathe.
Author Gemma Files succeeds in creating a sympathetic portrait of a notoriously difficult woman, which is no easy task. Peopled with deep, three-dimensional characters, EXPERIMENTAL FILM is a tower of narrative tension so steep, that readers will find it nearly impossible to put down, even as the sense of mounting horror will make them want to cover their eyes.