FALCON LAKE – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

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It’s holiday time, and Bastien (Joseph Engel) returns with his family to a well-loved lakeside cabin in Canada’s Laurentides region, near Montreal. He is thirteen going on fourteen, and while at first he’s happy to hang out with the younger kids and watch anime, the arrival of his slightly older cousin Chloe (Sarah Montpetit) changes everything.

Opening up a whole new world to Bastien, Chloe invites him into her much more grown-up world of underage drinking, parties and sex. With his new social life based in social congregations that cluster at different locations around the eponymous lake, the teens joke about a possible ghost who haunts the region – the spirit, it is said, of a kid who had died in a swimming accident sometime before their arrival. But Bastien must face different kinds of phantoms during his vacation as memories of the simplicity of childhood become more distant and ghost-like every day.

Charlotte Le Bon’s feature film debut Falcon Lake is an immersive, poetic deep dive into that strange, hazy time between childhood and adolescence, where the innocence of youth is rendered just as spectral as costumes rendered from white sheets and gauzy curtains. Amidst its lush landscapes beautifully captured by DOP Kristof Brandl she paints a thick, heavy world that immerses us immediately in Bastien and Chloe’s world, where the ambient chatter of adults buzzes in the background like little more than mosquitos.

Le Bon has her eye firmly on the liminality of this transitional period of Bastien’s life in particular, teasingly playing with aspects of the more traditional ghost story that she weaves into the life lessons he learns hard and fast. Held together with impressive central performances by Engel and Sarah Montpetit, Falcon Lake is a dreamy coming-of-age film where the past and present hauntingly entwine.

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Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas is a multi-award-winning film critic and author who has published nine books on cult, horror and exploitation cinema with an emphasis on gender politics, including the 2020 book ‘1000 Women in Horror, 1898-2018’ which was included on Esquire Magazine’s list of the best 125 books written about Hollywood. Alexandra is a contributing editor at Film International, a columnist at Fangoria, an Adjunct Professor at Deakin University, and a member of the advisory board of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies (LA, NYC, London).