Tuesday, Aug 22, 2023
Review by Abe Ziesing
Part suspense/thriller and part supernatural horror, with a cinematic theme and a Mexico City twist.
Montserrat and Tristan are lifelong codependent friends working on the fringes of the early 1990's Mexican movie scene, doing small-time sound editing, acting and voice-overs. As their working hours and opportunities dwindle, they become more and more desperate. When a once prominent, now obscure, horror film director's mail accidentally gets delivered to Tristan's address, they have an idea of how they can use this to their advantage and decide to make an attempt at creating a documentary about this enigmatic man. The further they travel down the research hole, the more they begin to realize that this isn't just some unusual director with a niche cult-classic following; this is a link to something much bigger - a dark and mysterious supernatural story that hasn't quite reached its conclusion.
SILVER NITRATE starts off a little slow with a healthy serving of backstory and setup. I did enjoy the fact that Moreno-Garcia doesn't just come out and tell you when exactly this story takes place until about two-thirds of the way through the book, but rather, she gives you fun pop-culture clues that put everything into context, like a slowly-focusing movie camera. The action does pick up, gradually building to a wonderful crescendo that, for me, took this book from so-so to exceptional.
The title comes from the high contrast film medium that was used many decades ago, before it was abandoned for less incendiary film. This type of film helps to create the "movie magic", that Garcia-Moreno takes quite literally, with it's brilliant whites, blackest of blacks and, in this case, paranormal qualities.
Written in a superb cinematic style, with its opening, feature presentation and closing, you can almost hear the three film wheels as they're rotated from one to the next. Point of view shifts and flashbacks make it a bit choppy, but its so well written that this is easily forgiven, if noticed at all.
Some horror flicks have a cult following. This one takes that concept to the next level!