The Book Corner: Gemma Files’s Experimental Film

cover Gemma Files’s Experimental Film

Book Corner: Experimental Film by Gemma Files

Loleta Abi

Experimental Film by Gemma Files. 2015 ChiZine Publications.

Amazon Blurb: 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 has—a 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 hallucination—an existential nightmare made physical, projected off the screen and into real life?

My Review: Warning: spoilers. As a mother, I found the Lois character lacking in the beginning as I’m sure most readers will, but then something incredible began to happen by the middle of the book. I began to CARE about her, even to sympathize with her as she opened herself up as a character. I have to admit, I’m not particularly interested in film history, but I do like to see behind the scenes how things are made. Her theory that all movies are ghost films, is interesting. It’s true, we can still see films of stars that are long gone. The villain in the story, however, is no ghost. I’m talking about the main villain: Lady Midday, though there are other villains in the story. She’s a forgotten god who wants in on the world that’s come to be. She’s chosen her sacrifice for the way in, can Lois stop what her predecessor couldn’t?

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