Ocean City Monster Building

It's all been a mirage!

Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: November 29, 2022

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Set in 1984, the former Mayor of an upstate New York township is found dead with the body of a young girl also in his car, and his family and friends plus an out-of-town Detective attempt to unravel the mystery.

So Sally Lambert (Julie Joy Shin), the adopted daughter of the former Mayor James Lambert, seems to have made her escape from the small insular town by going to college, and is rather unhappy about needing to come back there. Her adoptive mother Denise (Tjasa Ferme) puts on a cheerful white-lady front to everyone and tries to circumvent Sally finding out the whole truth about what happened to, and because of, her father. The general consensus between the two women, bound together as they are because of the secretive actions of one man, is that these hidden truths should stay buried at all cost. Especially considering they both suspect that the death of James Lambert wasn’t a murder, but a suicide.

Detective Aida Pierre (Evelyn Maria Dia) is also from outside the small town, and more or less immediately locks horns with the town Sheriff Jonathon White (Rick Schneider). That she’s undeniably black seems to have little bearing, but rather, that Pierre is passionate about solving a case that seems to involve a lot of stubbornly close-mouthed people, and is actually good at her job too, is what ruffles townsfolk feathers about her. Most cops have territorial issues, and while the Sheriff seems like a good ol’ boy (in a non-bedsheet-wearing kind of way), he too wants the case closed with a minimum of fuss and bother. Which circles us back around to the original question – why?

The parents of dead girl Megan Miller found with the former Mayor, Jake (Theron LaFountain) and Christine (Allison Altman), both have rather visceral reactions to the news that their missing daughter is in fact dead, though Christine’s explosive ranting and shrieking is far louder, and earns her some cool-down time in the local lockup. Neither parent enjoys a stellar reputation amongst the terribly judgy townsfolk, but that shouldn’t be enough to warrant their daughter being killed, in what is looking more and more like a successful suicide attempt. But Megan was young and just beginning to flower, eagerly looking forward to all life had to offer, so again, why?

Filmed on a necessary micro-budget in a surprising found footage-style ode to Lynchian filmmaking, the excellent writing (also from Director Chris Lane) commands stellar performances of all the actors, and makes for a truly compelling murder mystery movie to watch.