A Review by Jason L. King
Starring: Carol Lynley, Laurence Olivier
Directed by: Otto Preminger
Rated: Not Rated
Movie Released: 1965
I couldn’t possibly think of anything more horrifying to a parent than a missing child. The only thing that could possibly be any worse is if the police began to wonder if the child ever existed in the first place. A horrific tale such as this follows our main character in 1965’s Bunny Lake is Missing.
In this film, a young American mother moves over seas to live with her brother. Upon the busy bustle of moving to a new country and getting her child Felicia (whom everyone calls Bunny) enrolled in a day care/school, this troubled parent returns to the school not only to find her daughter Bunny missing, but no one in the school remembers ever seeing her arrive. With no evidence to go on to find their missing person, Scotland Yard begins to wonder if Bunny Lake ever existed or if she is just a figment of her mother’s imagination.
This mystery drama does a very good job of keeping you guessing from start to finish. As a viewer you never see Bunny Lake yourself as she is dropped off at school, since all camera shots are from the waist up on the adults. It is assumed Bunny has been left off at school, but you can’t be certain. That alone is what makes this film such a neat experience. Right along with the inspector, you don’t know if Bunny Lake is missing, or exists. Is Bunny Lake real? If so, where is she hiding out at and who is behind it all? This carefully contrived plot has you on the edge of your seat right along to the very end. (Good news folks- Bunny was not hiding in the closet to get a reality TV show like the balloon boy. -Some day that reference will be very out dated.)
Bunny’s mother, Ann Lake is a very complex character. Because of the way the film is constructed you have a very hard time deciding if you truly feel her pain and share in worry for her young daughter, or if you think she is a nut job. While we are in the process of kicking out pop culture references, I thought of Ann as the Jon Gosselin of movie moms, For a good portion of the movie you’re thinking she just a bad parent, but you’re not quite sure. (Ann Lake however, didn’t have a Ed Hardy Tiger T-Shirt on (but would have if it was popular in the 60’s)). Alongside the strange mother character, her brother comes off as equally strange adding even more the the intrigue of the plot.
Bunny Lake is Missing turned out to be a little known about (or forgotten about at the very least) gem that was a great watch. Sure, it’s black and white and it’s “old” but I felt like it is a film that holds up even today. It reminded me a lot of what I wanted a film like Freedomland to be when it came out. If you ever see this sitting on a rental shelf somewhere and you’ve got some free time, check out Bunny Lake is Missing and see if you can solve the case before Scotland Yard does.
–writers note: At the time of posting, “Bunny Lake is Missing” is available for free online at: Crackle.com.