Charlotte Le Bon creates a unique and enthralling coming-of-age love story in her feature debut Falcon Lake as the “almost 14-year-old Bastien (Joseph Engel) becomes enamoured with the slightly older Chloé (Sarah Montpetit) while vacationing with his family at a picturesque lakeside cabin. At 16, Chloé initially dismisses Bastien as immature. However, as the pair begin to spend more time with each other, a sexual tension begins to emerge – something that is made increasingly difficult to ignore, thanks to the closeness of their living arrangements. What makes Falcon Lake stand out in a genre that’s becoming oversaturated, though, is the playful way in which the filmmaker weaves elements of a chilling ghost story into the script.
The remote cabin-in-the-woods setting of this film would feel at home in likes of Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, Knock at the Cabin, or any other similar horror outing. Adding to the spooky atmosphere is Chloé’s story that the lake is haunted by the ghost of a child who drowned there. There are no dead children jumping out of the lake as in the finale of Friday the 13th, but Le Bon nevertheless understands the connotations of the setting and embraces them with a mischievous spirit that lightly toys with genre tropes. From the lights not working when the family arrives at the cabin to the teenagers dressing up as the lake’s ghost, there’s a charming gothic sense of humour running parallel to the blossoming romance.
As well as giving the feature a striking sense of presence, the horror elements are likewise cleverly deployed into the thematic bones of the script. While the older teenagers and adults are quick to dismiss the ghost story as make-believe, the youngsters hold onto the possibility that the tale could be true. One of the older teens even chastises Chloé for being so childish to make something like that up – but that’s because she, like Bastien, is still a child.
Whereas many coming-of-age films explore someone moving onto a new chapter of their life, Falcon Lake examines that limbo between childhood and adulthood to haunting effect. It’s only in the final act that the supernatural elements come to fruition; and even here Le Bon transforms them into something that’s equal parts bittersweet and tender.
In short, Falcon Lake is a coming-of-age story that’s unlike anything that’s been done before.
Falcon Lake is released digitally on demand on 10th May 2023.
Watch the trailer for Falcon Lake here: