Plot: Ann Lake (Carol Lynley) finds herself in an unthinkable situation, as her young daughter Bunny has vanished, but no one seems to believe her. She had just moved to a new apartment in London, dropped her child off at school, then helped the movers, but now she is trapped in a hellish scenario. The school seems to have no record of Bunny being enrolled and none of the staff had seen her, but Ann is adamant that she left her in the first day room. Even the police seem suspicious of Ann’s claims, given the evidence involved and words of Ann’s prior mental health conditions. The only person who seems to believe her is her brother Steven (Keir Dullea), who is open with the authorities, but also critical of their treatment of Ann. All proof of Bunny’s existence seem to have disappeared, but Ann refuses to give in to the accusations. Is she just a mentally unstable person, or is there a darker force at work?
Entertainment Value: This one is a dark, paranoia fueled ride, filled with sketchy, shady people and rampant distrust. Even minor characters give off an eerie vibe, which makes you think just about anything could be possible. I also love the black & white visuals, as the scenes are bathed in shadows and of course, that helps bolster this atmosphere of the unknown hiding in the darkness. The narrative is well written and effective, giving us a host of interesting characters and a story that works well, though I don’t think the finale is a home run conclusion. Despite the somewhat flat end sequence, the journey to that point is tense and still worth the ride. The direction is excellent and the visuals are quite remarkable, but the real draw here are the performances. Carol Lynley and Keir Dullea are great as the somewhat creepy brother and sister, with good chemistry and enough similar mannerisms to sell the relationship. Then we have Laurence Olivier as the no nonsense detective, Ada Ford as a quirky school official, and Noel Coward as a slimy, lecherous landlord who steals all of his scenes. Coward is such a sleaze here, with his scenes with Lynley standing out as super creepy and adding a lot to the unsettling vibe of the movie. I always have fun with Bunny Lake is Missing, as I love the dark, offbeat characters involved, but I do wish the end was more satisfying. But anyone who likes a good, tense thriller should give it a look.
No nakedness. No blood. Aside from Coward’s horny landlord and his seductive voice, there’s no real opportunities for sex and there’s no violence, so no real chance for the red stuff, either. I do love sex and violence, but the absence of those elements here is never a concern in the least. The dialogue is well written and has some sudden bursts of crazy, especially from Dullea’s Steven. He is all rational one moment, then calling people bastards or otherwise lashing out. As I appreciate impulsive, dysfunctional characters, I loved that element of the writing and Steven isn’t alone, as most of the characters here are off-putting in one way or another. Coward’s landlord provides some god tier slime, trying to impress Ann with his voice talent and just a minor touch proves to send chills of creepiness up the spine. So memorable characters and suitable dialogue, even if there’s not a wealth of quotable lines. The entire movie teeters on the edge of sanity, so it has a strong presence of paranoia and unsettling atmosphere. The school official who records the nightmares of children, the dismissive police, the borderline personality brother, predatory landlord, and even Ann’s fragile mental state all ensure that we never feel comfortable here. Not a kind of craziness that always shakes up the movie, but often a more subtle, unnerving kind of vibe. Although the scene at the doll repair shop is bound to inspire some nightmares.
Overall Insanity: 7/10